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Albert Park's Column.

Have you seen the weird advert from Guinness that's invaded our TV screens?

I mean the one using the old Guinness strapline "Good things come to those who wait".

The ad shows evolution in reverse, from the civilized heights of guys knocking back the Liffy juice, through to great apes and orang-utans via Neanderthal cave-dwellers and dinosaurs, ending up with goofy-eyed creatures supping black primordial slime ( an odd metaphor for an advert trying to excite a new generation of drinkers into believing that Guinness is good for you.

Guinness's bosses seem to have fallen hook line and sinker for what the advertising industry see as arty surrealism, and the rest of us see as utterly bizarre.

Now don't get me wrong. Quirky adverts can be a joy to watch. My all time favourites were the old black and white spoof Dambusters advert for I think, some brand of lager, and, more recently, the Stella Artois skating priests.

But the Guinness slots fall into a different league altogether. Some of the mini-dramas seem to have little or no relevance to Dublin's best.

Where did the surfer fit in? Or the horses? I suppose the plague of moths was supposed to represent the swirling head of a pint of Guinness as it pours out of the tap, but to me, it just made me think of squashed insects on car windscreens.

An earlier advert showed morose looking men playing hurling in a soft Irish drizzle. Leaving aside the fact that hardly anyone over here knows the first thing about hurling, the only subliminal thought to hit me was that Guinness drinking must in some way be associated with hanging around dank pubs in wet clothing.

The sheer banality of this kind of advertising comes alive when those of a certain age recall the old Guinness adverts.

As a kid I was taken by my grandparents to sunny Morecambe just because the Guinness Clock was on show. And pray, what was so special about this clock?

Well, to start with, it was a monster. First constructed for the 1951 Festival of Britain, it was 25ft high, weighed three tons, had three clock faces and no fewer than nine inter-locked electric and clockwork motors.

Every quarter of an hour a gong sounded and an elaborate 10 minute parade of all the Guinness animals ( the pelican, the sealion, the ostrich, the kangaroo and above all, the toucan ( strutted their stuff , watched by the Guinness Zoo Keeper. These were the characters that appeared on Guinness posters everywhere.

The great attraction of the clock for us ankle biters was that at seemingly random occasions, the toucan would make off with the zoo keepers cap and that alone kept us watching for hours.

It kept us quiet, Gran happy and allowed Grandpa to slope for a pint of whatever it was he drank. Somehow I don't think moths would do that for him now.

- Park Bencher
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Title Annotation:Column Albert Park
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2005
Words:488
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