x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Cosmic advertising

A gadget to whisk objectionable aspects of life into a black hole? Where can we buy one?

Our experience with advertising has taught us to expect self-referential, and self-mocking, pitches from companies trying to sell us stuff by amusing us. But the latest advert from Go Compare, a British insurance-comparison service, takes this concept to a new dimension - or perhaps several.

In previous adverts, Go Compare showed a tuxedo-clad tenor, supposedly called Gio Compario, intimidating ordinary folk by singing the firm's virtues at full volume, theatrical gestures and all.

Imagine the ad agency's delight when celebrity theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking volunteered to appear in a spot. In his commercial he announces that he has mastered the secrets of black holes, regions of space and time from which nothing can escape. He then daydreams of a use for his discovery - sucking Gio Compario away from innocent insurance customers and off into the silent interstellar vastness.

It's a droll advert, and shows again that Prof Hawking has a sense of humour. But more than demand for cheap insurance, we suspect the spot will conjure up demand for black hole gadgets: you don't have to be a genius to have your own little list of things - and people - you'd be tempted to whisk off to a galaxy far, far away.