No more Ally ad allies

As you probably know by now, it seems we soon won't have Ally McBeal to kick around any more. You've got to admit it's been an interesting run, though. Year one was just the freshest, coolest thing you ever saw, and it's been a roller coaster ever since.

As you probably know by now, it seems we soon won’t have Ally McBeal to kick around any more. You’ve got to admit it’s been an interesting run, though. Year one was just the freshest, coolest thing you ever saw, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.

The show kind of resurrected itself for a while in season four with Robert Downey Jr. as the love interest Larry Paul. And now we know that Downey on whatever drugs he was doing was about 10 times sexier than Jon Bon Jovi clean and sober. And any show that recruits Barry Humphries to play his Dame Edna Everage character and then maroons him looking ridiculous, pathetic and lost in the middle of Ally McBeal’s final meltdown should be cancelled. Or preferably flogged.

Nevertheless, David E. Kelley on a good day can still write rings around almost anyone writing for television, including most copywriters, of course. Now Aaron Sorkin does wonderful words on The West Wing, but you can’t really imagine him writing commercials. I get the sense the David E. Kelley would be amazing at writing commercials. His mind works that way.

The other night, probably for the last time, I taped Ally to get a look at a cross section of what we might suppose to be au courant spots to toy with in this column. Here’s what I thought was noteworthy, although it’s still only advertising, not branding! Branding is cool!

That little boy who goes zoom zoom in the Mazda commercials must be married with kids by now, it’s been so long. I’ve always felt he was cast because he looks German somehow. A hundred years from now in the old folks home, if you want to prove you’re older than you look, all you’ll have to do is sing zoom zoom zoom la la la la la and everyone will know. The whole zoom zoom thing makes me squirm, but you’ve got to give them credit for sticking with it like The Pound Pound Pound of Sinus Headache.

A&P has come up with a new promise that will probably strike a chord among those of us who dread rot and frantically search for the best before date when we buy anything not in a tin. A guy who was probably cast because he looks like a troublemaker is pulling cartons of milk out of the dairy case from ‘way back in there trying to fine an out-dated one. He can’t, of course, because this is an A&P store. But if he had found one, they’d have given him a new one free. It says so right on the sound track.

I rather like the kinky little Danone yogurt spot where the guy and the lady sitting on his lap dressed as a wet-dream French housemaid get intimate with the product, only to be interrupted by two grade six schoolgirls. One says My parents are so…weird! The French maid glares back You’re home from school early! Lovely.

Speaking of weird, I guess we’re seeing the promised new Gap campaign breaking. The one I caught begins with a slate that reads Two white shirts. For the next 28 seconds we watch black-and-white footage of a guy who’s freakin’ old and a babe who’s seen better days too, sitting on lawn furniture beside a swimming pool staring at a chess board. There appears to be a mist-filled valley lurking moodily behind them. Finally the old babe gets up and makes a move. They’re both wearing sunglasses. And white shirts, let me add. Remember the white shirts? That’s all, folks.

Speaking of sneaky, there’s a bit of a flap going on here in Ontari-ari-oh as to whether it’s a good idea for the government to sell off the people’s power generation system to private evil-doers, or whoever they are. There are probably two sides to this, but you won’t get a whiff of either one by watching the TV spot created by the caretakers of our democracy to ‘splain this delicate situation to us.

It starts with a father kissing a lovely little sunshine blond girl on the steps of their happy home. Hey, nice Dads kissing cute little daughters is good, eh? And happy they are, too, the whole family, and we know this ’cause Mom looks lovingly into the camera and says just as natural as can be in her own words Ontario is a great place to live, work and raise a family! And hey, that’s no guff, right?

This is confirmed by the hard hat big time construction guys we see next who observe That’s why it keeps growing and the Afro-Ontarian construction guy who adds And as we grow we’re gonna need more electricity! Gee, no argument there, pal!

Just to confirm, an Oriental-Ontarian executive (he’s high in a downtown office tower) who looks like Confucius dressed by Harry Rosen warmly intones A continuous supply for the future! And a prim female CEO smiles knowingly as she slips in the knife And more companies generating electricity! And we’re smiling and nodding like hell and we’re more in the dark than ever. This is very nasty stuff, folks. Makes you thankful you’re not one of those dreadful advertising people, you’re in branding!

Barry Base creates advertising campaigns for a living. He writes this column to blow off steam, and as a thinly disguised lure to attract clients who may imagine working with him could be a productive and amusing experience. Barry can be reached at (416) 924-5533, or faxed at (416) 960-5255, at the Toronto office of Barry Base & Partners.