It’s that fragrant time of year again, and Brut are spraying the airwaves with a new TV ad, fronted by ‘ard man Vinnie Jones, the ex-footballer, ex-actor, ex-Guy Ritchie fetish object.
Jones seized his claim to fame way back in 1988 by squeezing (the much better) footballer Paul Gascoigne’s wedding tackle during a game.
This image obviously tickled Mr Ritchie, who cast Jones in his first two films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) in essentially the same ‘ard man role that Jones had cast himself in on the pitch. In Snatch he gave him a long, bizarre, pornographic monologue about balls, which included the line:
There are big brave balls, and there are little mincey faggot balls.
His last major appearance on British TV was on Celebrity Big Brother in 2012, where he came across as a bully and a bitch, laughably threatened by cross-dressing kickboxer Alex Reid’s youth and relaxed sexuality – literally running to the other side of the room when Reid said that he was ‘try-sexual’. Jones went into the house the favourite to win – and left to boos. Cross-dressing Reid, the real ‘hard man’, won.
Eight years on Jones appears in this Brut ad to be playing a psycho Alf Garnett, sans the tache and the gags. Or perhaps a Pound Shop Sgt. Major Williams. He’s on a mission to save the world from… men’s fragrance ads. And general poovery.
“OI! CUT IT OUT!”
Brut is selling to its strengths here – or making a virtue out of its weakness. In the UK the Unilever-owned brand is, like Jones, a dated punchline. You are never going to sell Brut as a metrosexual brand. You are never going to sell it as a sexual brand.
So instead you sell it as the ‘no-nonsense’ ‘straight’ brand. No lah-dee-dah poncey gay bullshit. It does what it says on the tin. Brut-al.
The problem however with the ‘no-nonsense’ Ronseal ‘what matters is what it smells like’ approach is that Brut smells like… Ronseal.
And Jones is so studiedly butch he’s screamingly camp. Though without any entertainment value.
Henry ‘Splash it all ovah!’ Cooper, the Cockney ex heavyweight boxer who advertised Brut in its 1970s heydey, with less inhibition and a lot more humour – and way more homoerotics – must be rolling in his strongly-fragranced grave: