How can the company that made the iconic, delectable Flake adverts have succumbed to a crass American brute?
The classic adverts below (embedded from You Tube) are an integral and much-loved part of my past — I remember watching transfixed when they graced commercial breaks in the 80s and 90s.
On this one where the short-haired brunette’s watercolour gets ruined by the rain, I particularly love the cornfield stained crimson with poppies — and see that eye-liner and lipstick. (And listen out for Bernard Cribbins doing the Ross voiceover at the start — 25 years on and he’s gone time-travelling.)
This one, from the 90s, is a bit too unsubtle for my liking with a hint of self-parody. The close up of the woman enjoying the flake is a little too obvious and the music is a bit too gothic as well. Yet it’s still compelling viewing — she’s certainly getting satisfaction from the flake but what’s the lizard doing? (Even though it’s a relatively recent advert, the cars in the Sunday Times supplement look very dated — and it’s ironic that there’s an advert for the N&P Building Society — remember them? Another worthy institution trashed in the search for a fast buck.)
Slightly more subtle and more to my taste is the waterfall advert from the 80s. This must set a world record for the most Freudian imagery that can be crammed into 30 seconds. The girl places the flake in her mouth much more seductively, especially with those two big white teeth, and the way her eyes flash open in wonderment after she’s taken a bite is electrifying. The attention to detail is great: it’s gratifying to see how she wastes none of the chocolate, pushing in crumbly bits that’s she’smissed into her mouth with her fingers as she loses the paddle. Then she enters a whole, hidden underground world in the flooded cavern which is full of phallic stalactites and stalagmites. She looks fantastic after her drenching under the waterfall — hair stuck across her forehead as she eases herself to lie down on the floor of the vessel, taking another satisfying bite as she reclines. Blimey. I’d like to float her boat.
My favourite is one which is a little more innocent — the gypsy caravan from 1985 (it’s easy to check the clip’s vintage as there’s a glimpse of an advert for the GLC at the very start of the You Tube clip). The field of sunflowers is such a striking image that it’s stayed in my mind for 25 years — and it’s quite clever as the sunflowers are the same colour as the Flake wrapper. This advert is probably the most explicit in terms of showing the flake eating — a lingering, side-on view. The way she unwraps the flake at the beginning is incredible — gently undoing the twist at the top and then getting down to business by pulling the wrapper down the length of the top half of the bar with efficient determination. What interesting symbolism is represented by the empty gypsy caravan that she suddenly comes upon — she perches on the back and the caravan moves off mysteriously and she’s happy to accept the ride.
And speaking of glamorous Cadbury women, what about Fry’s Turkish Delight (itself acquired by Cadbury) – ‘full of eastern promise’. Indeed (although she does look a bit like the dark one from the Human League).
And no collection of nostalgic Cadbury adverts would be complete without…