BACKBITE

Although usually I review commercials soon after first transmission or not at all, I’m making an exception this week because the first wave of New Deal ads, part of the Welfare to Work campaign through St Luke’s, seems to have hit a daring new high in the realms of Government advertising.

Although usually I review commercials soon after first transmission

or not at all, I’m making an exception this week because the first wave

of New Deal ads, part of the Welfare to Work campaign through St Luke’s,

seems to have hit a daring new high in the realms of Government

advertising.



These ads are not about selling, they are about sharing, and in a nice

twist (for adland’s navel gazers at least) they embody the feeling of

community and consensus that is one of the founding principles of the

agency that created them.



I still can’t get the image out of my mind of those evangelical and yet

faintly uncomfortable businessmen jumping from their seats in packed

trains to harangue embarrassed passengers. The ads certainly derive much

of their power from being both believeable and sharply observed - which

is where the use of the hidden camera comes in. (Sorry, but the cynical

hack in me never really believes in the hidden camera, especially where,

as in this case, the train seems to contain a well-balanced selection of

social types straight from central casting.)



OK, so it’s easy to be an armchair critic of these, and indeed any,

ads.



(Just sit back and say ’this chair’s crap, the springs are uncomfortable

and the stuffing’s sticking out’ and you’ll be an armchair critic too.)

But, having eulogised, it’s also worth pointing out what could turn out

to be the reality of New Deal.



Under the scheme, firms that take on young people who have been

unemployed for more than six months will receive a pounds 60 weekly

subsidy for each new em-ployee, plus pounds 750 towards training. But is

there really anything to stop companies getting rid of older staff,

taking on cheap subsidised labour and then letting them go too when the

handouts stop?



Nothing to do with the brief, of course, but not quite the delightful

vision that his One Nationness, or St Luke’s come to think of it, would

have in mind.