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Is Magnum the new Flake?

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Spoiler alert: this blog gives everything away about the new Magnum ad, so if you want to see it ‘au naturel’ and experience it as its writers and directors intended, you might want to watch it first. Here’s a link, with thanks to @Campaignmag.

There are so many things to like about the new Magnum ad.

It’s seductively, languorously shot.

The wedding ceremony is beautiful and idealised and the kind of wedding you’d want to go to. Great architecture, stylish location, warm and outside. Could be Italy. Possibly LA. Most likely Spain, as it was made by Madrid agency Lola Mullen Lowe.

Attractive guests of all ages, beautifully dressed. White petals strewn everywhere. Happiness all around. And a great dress.

Actually, great dresses. No meringues, but two contrasting styles. One more vintage and lacy, one more traditional and contemporary.

A subtle but dramatic twist, when one bride walks up the aisle with her father (?) to meet the other bride. A half-speed and therefore four times-duration moment when both brides assess and approve of the other’s dress.

A fabulous, Americana-ish cover of Bob Marley’s Is This Love?

A beautiful kiss when the celebrant ends the ceremony.

An engaging – if perhaps a little cheesy and easily subvertible – hashtag, #PleasureIsDiverse.

The best of intentions.

Properly liberal sensibilities and sensitivities.

No sign of a brand until almost the end of the 90-second reel.

And they go spoilt it all and … a white chocolate Magnum is offered from one bride to the other in a phallocentric echo of the 1970s Flake ad so loud that it clangs like the bells of St Pauls up close and everything that came before falls away like those white rose petals, like the chocolatey coating of the Magnum, like “did you really need to go there?”

I appreciate that Magnum – and its aggressively macho, oversized condom name and physical shape – can’t undo decades of what it is and what it has been. But rather than genuinely celebrating this same sex union, for me at least, there’s a smutty, ad literate undercurrent that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Look – they’ve even got me at it.

These best of intentions are shared in a corporate statement, as reported in Ad Age: “As huge supporters of all things pleasurable, we feel it’s our duty to encourage, endorse and celebrate an acceptance of people brave enough to stand up for who they are. How you live your life is a decision only you can make, but by deciding to be true to yourself we think you’re contributing a little more individual freedom and a little more individual pleasure to the wonderfully diverse canvas of our society.”

Absolutely. And yet.

I don’t imagine the hashtag will prove as ill-advised as McDonald’s #CheersToSochi and #McDStoires or #WaitroseReasons. But I wouldn’t be surprised to read more about #PleasureIsDiverse in a way that Magnum – and its parents Unilever – didn’t quite intend.

Shame.

Sam Knowles
Sam Knowles is Founder & MD of Insight Agents. He helps companies, brands, and third-sector organisations find simple, true, and authentic language. This gives them the tools, permission, and confidence they need to communicate effectively. His purpose is to help organisations talk like people.

Sam has recently written a book called “Narrative by Numbers: How to Tell Powerful and Purposeful Stories with Data”. It will be published in April 2018 by Routledge.