he has a point. If you define pornography as salacious titillation that degrades or corrupts its surroundings, then much of the advertising output for Galaxy and Dairy Milk falls into that category. But then so does a lot of stuff these days, and not all of it is advertising.
And so to the launch of the new Nestle Double Cream bar, a landmark occasion in the chocolate world, if such a thing can be said. Discounting brand extensions, the last significant chocolate block launch was Yorkie, now part of the Nestle stable, back in the 70s. So we may conclude that this is either a market lacking in innovation or one where the nation's habits are so ingrained nobody dare challenge Galaxy or Dairy Milk.
A five-year marketing budget of £34 million, £9 million of which will be spent between now and the New Year, says Nestle thinks different. As one would expect from Nestle, the launch has been planned with Swiss horological precision: sampling, advertorials, covermounts and trade marketing all complement a big TV push from Lowe. Nestle has even trademarked the phrase "Chocolate matters". This product certainly won't fail for lack of money or awareness.
If you stand back, it's obvious that most chocolate advertising is about capturing that elusive thing, the Chocolate Moment - that instant when we give into temptation (usually between 2.30pm and 3pm weekday afternoons for me, also evenings). The trick, of course, is to find an interesting and different way of expressing that moment.
The Lowe solution is certainly different, and certainly as far removed from choco porn as you can get. A contemporary Bonnie and Clyde-type couple (sans violence) pull off the West Rock bank job. Only the notes are marked so they can't spend the dosh. They are trailed by a Peter Falk lookalike private eye, who narrates the story. His efforts are to no avail until the woman can't resist buying a bar of Double Cream.
It's all very charming and light-hearted, romantic even. The robbers are likeable and attractive, and the detective has a rapport with them.
The music is upbeat. Very Lowe, if you think of house styles. And I'm with it all the way. Until, that is, the heavy sell comes in: full-on pack shot, bit of product info (it's made from Ecuadorian cocoa beans, don't you know) and the pay-off line: "We all have our weaknesses." And I laugh, and so do my Campaign colleagues. It's so jarring it's funny, and I don't know whether it's supposed to be in a post-modern ironic way, or whether they're actually deadly serious.
In the end, I'm not sure whether this matters. I can't speak for the provenance of cocoa beans from Ecuador (they could be from Iraq for all I care), but double cream seems like a killer ingredient to me, certainly compared to the low-grade milk and cocoa solid formulations we're used to. If you're going to take on entrenched brands such as Dairy Milk and Galaxy you need to start with a better product, spread the word as wide as possible and hope the British palate is ready for it. It's worked with wine; there's no reason it shouldn't work with chocolate.
Dead cert for a Pencil? With that packshot? No way.
File under ... M for mmmmmm.
What would the chairman's wife say? Wouldn't sampling journalists be a
really good idea?