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O2’s latest “cloying TV advert”

I doubt that Malvina Reynolds would have thought much of her clever, understated satirical song “Little Boxes” being used by O2 for its latest, cloying TV advert.

Martin, 12th March 2012

I certainly find it intensely irritating, partly because an advertising director thinks the song is a breed of 60s veal calf, suitable for butchering, and partly because the crass and cloying nature of the ad hides an iron-hard spine of commercialism that stands completely at odds with the values of those artists behind the social movements of that amazing decade, who used intelligent songwriting to capture and change hearts and minds.

For those who, like me, were brought up enjoying the song as a child because it was simple and catchy and then liking it even more when the grown-ups explained what it was really about, O2′s blundering misappropriation is a depressing indictment of the cultural amnesia that besets us and the fact that companies think that everything can be turned into a commodity, including the works of a time that valued originality and freedom of thought over mass production and the corporation.

Either their advisers haven’t a clue why so many thought “Little Boxes” was a wickedly sweet thrust at conformity or they are hoping that the adults who do remember will feel quirky and rebellious again, and will rush – or hobble – out to O2 shops to be patronised by attractive young men and women who want to sell them Apple’s latest fondle slab. One thing’s for certain: O2′s main demographic (the one that thinks that satyrs in boating hats are just so hilariously surreal) will be totally unaware of the significance of the music and will probably assume it refers to wireless routers.

Martin, 12th March 2012


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