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January 20, 2011

I saw this ad for for Aviva last night. It stopped me in my tracks.

No, not another one of Paul Whitehouse’s half-baked comedy personas, but rather a surprisingly affecting piece of Sixth Sense-inspired, magical realism poignancy.

I thought the former for the first 26 seconds. But then, ‘Boo!’ Suddenly the whole tone – not just of the ad, but of the whole ‘up-until-this-point-painfully-unfunny-campaign’ – completely shifts. Wow. Where did that come from?

Insurance isn’t hard to make dull. You just leave it as it is and let it work its tedious minutiae magic. Or, you try and inject some comedy into it, as Whitehouse has tried to throughout the front-end of the campaign in question. Chris Addison has recently made a stab of it for Direct Line. Both are unconvincing. This one though. This got me.

It’s not overly sentimental nor is it crass. It’s just a tender piece of storytelling which fakes one way then leaves you wrong footed and strangely rewarded.

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