Adwatch: Kevin Bacon makes a decent fist of EE'S 4G spot

Gerry Moira from Havas Worldwide London reviews EE's "Speed"

The standout spot is Marmite, but everyone's had his or her fivepenneth about that. Suffice to say that brand candour (am I the first to coin "brandour"?) is much advocated in marketing circles and very little practised. This is another fine example of this rare phenomenon.

I want to talk about Madoff Syndrome and how it's affecting British TV advertising. Have you noticed how many Hollywood A-listers are whoring their asses around your commercial break these days? Some, like Kiefer Sutherland and Megan Fox, are driven by a deep and abiding interest in Acer technology.

Others, like Bruce Willis and Al Pacino (Shylock? Scarface? Serpico? WTF?), are possibly motivated by Sky's unswerving patronage of the arts. Some, however, have been propelled onto our screen by darker, more urgent forces. They have been burned by Bernie. Madoff made off with their money. They've been Ponzied, mate.

Kevin Bacon is reportedly among the "smoked". Could this be his reason for refocusing his career goals to include fronting EE 4GEE? In this spot, The Connected One tries to talk about network speeds and iPhone 5 wizardry in terms we might understand and even want. He makes a decent fist of presenting too much information, and I wouldn't deny anyone the opportunity to earn an honest crust - it is not for us in advertising to slip our filthy boots into the stirrup of any saddle mounted on a high horse.

But this sudden, unpicky availability of Hollywood's finest has triggered a kind of celebrity arms race on our shores. They say the first casualty of war is truth; well there's a few dozen British Equity members surviving on repeats of Casualty thanks to this invasion of US talent. I shudder to think how much HTC is paying Robert Downey Jr. This most bankable star is reduced to a walk-on part in the Taiwanese handset manufacturer's latest spot. To hire Iron Man and make him stand in line at the back takes balls.

I guess global brands can justify these costs, but it still seems a lazy way of buying engagement - and slightly defeatist. "My brand has nothing differentiated or interesting to say, so I'll get someone famous to say it." What has changed, though, is the absence of any collateral damage to the star's reputation.

Gone are the days when such slumming was confined to the Japanese whisky market. Clooney shamelessly sleepwalks through Martini and Nespresso ads and spends the money on a spy satellite to expose atrocities in Sudan. That's "brandour", baby.

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Adwatch prompted advertising-awareness research was conducted by TNS as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged 16-64. For details of the survey, contact (020 7656 5890). Ads were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).