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
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
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
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.