Urrrgh! I’ve almost brought up my dinner and what caused it? TV chefs,
that’s what. Not, I hasten to add, the piquant Keith or Delia, but those
lower rear intestines that we get served up as chefs in TV ads.
Today, it was the Knorr chef, but it could easily have been Birds Eye’s
or Findus’s or Batchelors’ or Heinz’s or Crosse and Blackwell’s. Every
so often, the client/agency orders a break in the steady diet of good,
entertaining food ads that our industry creates and demands a ‘recipe
approach’. And before long, as certain as shit attracts flies, someone
writes an ‘our chefs at’ commercial. The client laps it up and it hits
the screen like yesterday’s leftovers.
Stomach gripe 1: When they cast these ‘chefs’, where do they get their
inspiration? Certainly not from real life where our food providers in
restaurants and hotels are split between the pock-marked bottom
scratchers who actually man the ovens and the surly gossip column stars
who front the place and call two leaves in pink sauce a meal. No, what
you get with TV chefs is ham. They’re either cheery red-faced men with
bushy beards or sad Buster Keaton-types with droopy moustaches. They
prance around the kitchen kissing their fingers if successful or burst
into tears when they can’t get it right. They sip from copper pans with
wooden spoons and their faces crease up as if in orgasm. They also wear
bow ties, for God’s sake.
Stomach gripe 2: The opening line, ‘Our chefs at Knorr or Birds Eye or
Heinz or wherever’ is too much to swallow. Come off it. ‘Our laboratory
technicians at...’ would be closer to the truth. Ditto the visuals.
These are usually some cosy, countrified kitchen garnished with fresh
herbs, tomatoes and peppers. The sort of place Conran might have dreamed
up between opening restaurants. The reality, as anyone unfortunate
enough to have visited a client’s kitchen knows, is less Provence and
more Portadown. Within stainless steel walls, grim-faced operatives
mechanically measure out the hydrogenated vegetable oils, emulsifiers
and flavour enhancers, only pausing to recapture an escaped beagle. Come
on BACC, stop giving those comparatively tasteful Club 18-30 ads a hard
time and get your teeth into these misleading turkeys.
Send your rants, in no more than 400 words, to Stefano Hatfield at 174
Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP.