Grant aids Guardian attempt to ‘own’ weekends

‘Hugh Grant to star in Guardian ad’ ran a story on the paper’s website. Turns out the actor doesn’t so much ‘star’ in as ‘briefly introduce’ a strangely disjointed movie trailer spoof puffing the Guardian and Observer’s weekend editions

‘Hugh Grant to star in Guardian ad’ ran a story on the paper’s website. Turns out the actor doesn’t so much ‘star’ in as ‘briefly introduce’ a strangely disjointed movie trailer spoof puffing the Guardian and Observer’s weekend editions

The Guardian’s trailing of its own ad campaign was roundly ridiculed in the comments section by the paper’s online readers, as was Grant’s involvement. (One wit recalled a line from The Thick of It in stating that it was a case of “A posh bloke who hates newspapers advertising a posh paper that hates newspapers”.) Some also speculated about whether the actor’s appearance in the ad might be some form of ‘pay back’ for The Guardian’s phone hacking coverage. Perhaps anticipating this, in a press release about the ad, the paper stressed that Grant had not been paid for his contribution. Weird. Why should it matter if he was paid or not?

The full-length version of the ad (directed by Tim Godsall and produced by Biscuit Films) will, we are told, run online only. Cut down versions will be seen in cinemas. This perhaps explains the ad’s fragmented, episodic nature – the snippets may well work much better on their own.

Again, it’s from BBH (written by Wesley Hawes and Gary McCreadie), which had such awards success with Three Little Pigs for the paper last year. While that ad took great pains to explain the modern news-gathering process and how stories develop quickly over time and over a multitude of channels, this one is a much more straightforward pitch for spending some quality time with the Saturday Guardian and The Observer.

Does it work? Grant’s involvement is minimal – something which may or may not be a plus, depending on your taste. Post-Leveson, some fun is had at his expense as we are led to believe that he has been lured into getting involved on the basis that at last here was a serious paper that was above the tawdry exploitation of celebrities for commercial ends. The film has a gentle dig at stereotypical Guardianistas too as Mr and Mrs Smug debate whether to “catch the modernism show in town” or do something exciting with salmon and the use of cheesy stock footage is fun. The scene in the lift, however, is just painful and this full-length version feels a bit all over the place. Better to wait for the 30s and 60s in the cinema to judge its true impact perhaps.

Now, can we stop with the movie trailer spoofs please? I think we’ve all had enough haven’t we?

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