OPINION: Tylee on ... Haagen-Dazs

Whatever happened to those DINKY (double income, no kids) couples

in the Haagen-Dazs ads? Limbs entwined and indulging in their second

favourite pastime of spooning ice-cream down each other's throats before

- it seems safe to assume - moving effortlessly on to their most

favourite one.

They got children, mortgages and pension plans, that's what. Which is

presumably why there's a fresh dollop of TV advertising to seduce a new

generation of twentysomething hedonists.

Ten years on, that Bartle Bogle Hegarty work lingers in the mind not

just for the way it so effectively translated the brief but because it

rewrote the script for an entire sector. It's easy to forget how the

ice-cream market was in those innocent days. A tub of Gino Ginnelli was

about as sophisticated as it got.

Haagen-Dazs transformed a stagnant and declining market dominated by

established brands with little or no interest in innovation by extending

the appeal of a product that was once just a children's treat to become

an adult indulgence. So simple you wonder why nobody thought of it


Of course, Haagen-Dazs was no ordinary ice-cream - it was high quality,

premium-priced and instantly addictive - but the advertising delivered

the simple truth: this was a product synonymous with intimacy and

sensuality, the ultimate aid to "chilling out".

A lot has happened to the brand and its advertising since then.

Haagen-Dazs is now an outpost of the food conglomerate Pillsbury and

it's up to Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper to sustain the advertising legacy that

BBH bequeathed.

Welcome then to the Institute of Sensual Eating, a spoof New Age retreat

where the joy of eating Haagen-Dazs is linked to spiritual enlightenment

rather than the joy of ... well, you know what. Needs must, I suppose.

Brand campaigns must evolve or die and this one is as good an example as

any of ads that tap into the current desire for instant gratification

while simultaneously sending it up.

Hang on, though. Is this the spoof it pretends to be? On the face of it,

Haagen-Dazs is the latest in a series of advertisers - Goldfish, Fosters

and Renault among them - who have had a tilt at New Age fads. Next to

Jeffrey Archer, no target comes any softer. It enables "us" advertisers

to laugh with "you" consumers at something everybody outside the

chattering classes knows is bollocks and helps extend a brand's appeal

beyond Islington's confines and The Guardian's readership.

All well and good as long as it doesn't backfire. Research into the

Billy Connolly Goldfish campaign revealed a significant number of people

with irony bypasses who took the pseudo-intellectual tosh seriously. But

just as anybody who doesn't get a Goldfish ad shouldn't be let loose

with one of its cards, so it's unlikely that viewers taking the

Haagen-Dazs ad at face value will be popping round to the deli for a tub

of the stuff.

Yet I still wonder whether Haagen-Dazs, well established as an urban

brand with attitude, is being mealy mouthed by dressing up what it

really wants to say. This, after all, is the age of the Ibiza

generation. Thatcher's children have money in their pockets, time to

spend it and perpetual pleasure as their aim.

Not that hedonism is anything new, just more overt. It would be sad if

Haagen-Dazs, whose advertising has always been so self-assured, forgot

its heritage. I've just seen a frolicking Haagen-Dazs couple in a new ad

for DFS sofas. Enough said.