One of the prerequisites of hosting a column called Backbite, as I am
doing for the first time this week, is people expecting you to stick the
knife in. This won’t happen every time I write here - but what the hell
has M&C Saatchi done with those sinister BA ads?
My gripe is with the series of commercials and press ads using the ‘box’
device, where adult male faces are superimposed on to kids’ bodies - the
cradle scene, the larder scene, etc.
Every time I see these images they remind me of a house at 158 Windmill
Road in Gillingham, Kent. Here, middle-aged men - not unlike the harried
executives who occupy BA business-class cradle seats as they fly around
the globe - transform themselves into babies.
For this perverse pleasure, known as infantilism, they spend pounds 240
a day being looked after by ‘Mummy Hazel’, who dishes out botty smacks,
bondage videos and tapioca pudding in equal measure to 12-stone men
dressed in huge romper suits, nappies and frilly dresses.
Hazel’s Hushabye Baby Club is one kind of adult creche, BA’s business
class ads inspire another, and I, for one, am left feeling anything but
closer to BA. Worse, I am positively turned off by one of the most
spooky campaigns I’ve seen for years.
Just because every time I see a BA commercial I want to shout ‘Go back
home you perverts!’, sign up for a Richard Branson PEP and reach for a
Virgin Cola, doesn’t mean these strategically clear BA ads won’t work.
I presume they are intended to make the largely male expense account-
fuelled targets feel warm and cosy towards a hitherto cold and lofty
Why, then, does the surreal ‘dreams’ global film (an ad that is intended
as much for me as anyone) bombard me with alienating, cold, impersonal
images: masked theatre, dollar signs, a man being chased through the
snow by faceless horsemen?
While BA is spending pounds 775 million and taking three years to
reinvent itself, I am repelled and confused. Is anyone else?