Here's a truly weird, almost creepy one. An elaborate double-page spread in the "colour supplement" in my weekend paper. A large block of text accompanies a full page picture of a young woman in a bathing suit holding a surfboard. We are told she is of humble origins in Brazil but is now a professional surfer and is really jolly pleased about it.
Perched discreetly at the foot of one page is the word from our sponsor. Here we learn that the surfer is "a Johnny Walker ambassador because she embraces the philosophy that joy takes you further in life". The strapline appears to be "Walk with joy".
The creepy aspect of this slogan is its similarity to the Nazi slogan "Strength through joy" but whether today's adman is sufficiently well educated to know that, I cannot tell. I can excuse them the "Walk" bit because Johnny Walker's advertising has used that word for ages. However this is not the main point. Why should I think better of them because they are associated with a young lady from a distant country?
Let us begin by considering the central issue raised by the gushing copy about the terrible hardships endured by someone who spends her time paddling about in the warm South American seas. Does the young lady drink the product? If so, she's keeping very quiet about it. Not one mention of her taking the quick gulp from her hip flask before she tackles a big one off the Amazon. Nothing about her habit of chucking the empties over her balcony at 3am. We are told that she has been able to buy a car with the proceeds of her profession but not whether she takes the odd hearty swig whilst hurtling around the motorways of Rio. Does she take it with ice? Soda? She doesn't ruin it by putting cola in, does she? In fact, although she is supposed to be an ambassador, there is not a single mention of the whisky, or any of the alcoholic or other products made by the Distillers company. Indeed, her demanding lifestyle probably militates against the taking of whisky - perhaps the odd half glass of beer on a hot day or a drop of rum in the evening might be more likely in any case.
None of this appears to matter though. She is an ambassador (not a mere second secretary or commercial attache, no, it's straight into the top flight of diplomatic ranks for our girl) because she is a bit on the cheerful side. That's all it takes. She does something she likes, and good for her, so that qualifies her for - well, I don't know what she gets out it. Presumably a healthy fee for having her picture splashed over the advert - she is a professional after all. Perhaps a couple of crates of the hard stuff delivered to her door in an unmarked van once a month.
What else does an ambassador for whisky do? Really, she should be haunting the fashionable bars of Ipanema and Copacabana, putting her arms round her drinking buddies and insisting "você é meu melhor companheiro que você é
"1, and then ordering large ones all round. Or putting on elaborate parties where, after the butler has brought round the mounds of chocolates wrapped in silver foil she can further spoil her guests by a liberal distribution of snifters and a merry, nay, joyful, shout of "Há muito mais de onde isso veio"2.
In any case, if a spot of joyfulness is the only qualification to attain this clearly desirable status (I'm assuming that, as an ambassador, you get a decent expense allowance, a reasonable flat in the heart of the diplomatic quarter and luncheon vouchers) then, listen Messrs. Distillers, I'm your man. I can put on a beaming, gap-toothed smile with the best of them. I'm doing something I dearly love [actually, mentioning you enjoy taking the piss out of admen might not be the most intelligent thing to put in writing: Ed]and unlike your Brazilian surfer chum, I am partial to the occasional drop of the "Scottish product". So here's the deal. I'll be your high commissioner to beautiful Ruislip, you drop round a few botts. in a plain brown bag and everyone wins. I'd certainly be walking with joy, I know that.
1. "You're my best mate you are".
2. "There's more where that came from"
Thanks Google Translate