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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Putting the covers on
AD BREAKDOWN
The Magazine's review of advertising

Gooch and Warne conduct pitch report
Advertising pitch
THE PRODUCT: Advanced Hair Studios

THE BRIEF: Show that going bald is not something to be embarrassed about. It's just something that likeable blokes talk about frankly.

WHAT'S GOING ON: Shane Warne and former England captain Graham Gooch do a pitch report at the Oval.

"What do you reckon Goochie?" asks Warney as he bends down to feel the pitch.

"Looking a bit sparse on top, Warney. I wouldn't be surprised if it starts thinning out rather quickly," says Goochie, trying too hard to sound like he hadn't rehearsed the words 100 times.

Shane Warne
Me? Thinning hair?
Warney gradually looks a bit hurt, in a performance perhaps inspired by Joey Tribbiani's "act/react" thesis for soap acting.

"You'd better see Advanced Hair Studio," says Goochie, reassuringly.

Warney was asking about the pitch. But Goochie's talking about Warney's barnet. It's the kind of misunderstanding that makes Shakespearian comedy such a hoot.

Suddenly a picture of Warney's growing bald spot appears on the scoreboard. It's a classic "before" shot - the hair looks wet and has been combed to accentuate the thinning to maximum effect.

Cut to a later shot of the pair. "Hey Goochie, since I've been to Advanced Hair Studio, my hair's looking as lush as an English greentop." That's a very green cricket pitch, to anyone who doesn't know. Warney tips his head forward - showing off his (completely dry) head which is now covered in hair.

Shane's thinning hair
The evidence
Goochie then shows Warney a text message he has received. "Love it Warney," it reads. The presence of a text message appears to be a reference to stories which have appeared in several newspapers linking Warne to saucy messages sent to women.

This advert is certainly not a slickly produced piece of work. It is to male grooming what Michael Winner's "calm down, dear" is to the world of motoring. If every advert was like this, commercial breaks would be terrible places to go.

But for the time being, it is unique, and for that it works.

The "good sport" approach to the text messages is interesting, and applies equally to the subject of hair loss, which could be sensitive territory. For Warne was the man who famously walked out of a press conference when unkind comments were made about his weight. By addressing the issue himself - and in fact well before anyone would accuse him of going bald - he has neutralised the subject.

It's the "clubbable" atmosphere created in the adverts which makes them work. Baldness isn't anything to be ashamed about, it's just something that happens to blokes, even ones you might admire like Goochie, and all you've got to do is deal with it.

Despite this stab at being inclusive, the fact that it's actually OK for men to lose their hair is not, obviously, addressed.

Graham Gooch text message
Knockabout clubbable fun
The advert comes in a long line of cricket-related stars endorsing the company, notably Australian Greg Matthews, who has for years been its public face; it was he who made well-known the otherwise unpromising slogan "yeah, yeah", with a strange emphasis on the second "yeah".

Carl Howell, managing director of Advanced Hair Studios says: "Every time we advertise, we try to approach it a bit tongue-in-cheek. Our approach is that there's no big deal about it."

The company had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority earlier this year for not making it completely clear in newspaper adverts that Graham Gooch's new-found hirsuteness was down to replacement hair, rather than him having regrown it.

The company says it offers two kinds of treatments - a laser programme for people like Warne, which includes pharmaceutical products, and a "strand-by-strand" treatment which, Howell says, creates a "synthetic second skin" which is "non-surgically grafted" on to the head. This is the Gooch product.

Howell is obviously delighted Warne is now the face of his company, for all the positive associations of likeablility and sportsmanship - to say nothing of genius - that he carries. And for him it's probably a safer bet than one of Warne's previous product endorsements.

At the start of 1999 he was paid a reported AUS$200,000 to endorse nicotine gum as he pledged to give up smoking. Four months later, he was photographed, fag in hand.

Ad Breakdown is compiled by Giles Wilson.




 


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