OPINION: COLLISTER ON ... THE AMBASSADOR’S PARTY

The three best parties in Britain? Abigail’s; the Labour; and the ambassador’s. And now comes the shocking news from CampaignLive: Ferrero Rocher to axe cult ’ambassador’s party’ commercial.

The three best parties in Britain? Abigail’s; the Labour; and the

ambassador’s. And now comes the shocking news from CampaignLive: Ferrero

Rocher to axe cult ’ambassador’s party’ commercial.



This is almost as depressing a moment as Ben’s bye-bye from the Birds

Eye beefburger campaign. It’s as sad as the day George the Bear got

himself banned from selling Hofmeister because he’d become a hero to the

young.



At least we were allowed to see Ben take his leave of tearful Mary to

the Dolly Parton soundtrack, I Will Always Love You, and at least we

were tantalised for a while by the thought of another John Webster

cuddly creature taking over from George under the theme, ’for great

lager, follow the hedgehog’.



I think we should be allowed a sentimental farewell to the blonde with

the dodgy accent, the butler and the Omar Sharif lookalike. Perhaps Ken

and Chris at Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB could pen ’after the party’. All

the chocs have been eaten and there’s no point hanging around. The

ambassador’s guests all leave and try hailing taxis amusingly in

Belgrave Square.



Maybe they could even turn it into a campaign, creating a long-running

series of ’ambassador’s parties’. They could set one in Peru, for

instance, with a Japanese ambassador offering around the Ferrero Rochers

as Shining Path guerrillas come crashing in through the windows. Hands

up, we’ve come for the chocolate.



What is it about this commercial that’s made it so famous? ’Oh,

ambassador, but you are spoiling us!’ has become a catchphrase and I

know people who have been to ambassador’s parties. You have to wear

black tie and the Order of the Garter and hope there aren’t any

skinheads on the bus on the way home.



It is generally acknowledged to be a bad ad. But somehow it manages to

be gloriously, magnificently bad. The hammy nod of the ambassador; the

embarrassing subservience of the butler; all these actors have done

their time at the Royal Academy of Over-Acting, haven’t they? But it’s

not just the performances that are naff. The music’s naff. ’And have you

seen that carpet?’, Mike Barker was wont to exclaim.



The film has a remarkable consistency. It’s awful in all its parts, not

just in some. As a result it winds up having a strange sort of

integrity.



It’s a bit like watching a school play. You feel everyone involved is

doing their darndest to mimic what advertising is meant to be. Their

efforts are earnest, enthusiastic but sincere, so you find yourself

touched by the inadequacies, rather than critical of them.



Of course, describing the commercial as bad is not only patronising, but

inaccurate. Bad advertising is advertising that lies, that deliberately

sets out to mislead or to offend. This is advertising that has been

manifestly successful. Sold a lot of chocolate and established a brand

with upmarket credentials that justify the price. In fact, everything

good advertising is meant to be.



So, would I have it on my reel? Yes, I think I would. For a laugh.



Patrick Collister is vice-chairman and executive creative director of

Ogilvy & Mather.



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