And so it came to pass that Hovis decided it was high time for a spot of nostalgia and has launched a digitally remastered version of its classic “Boy on the bike” ad, 46 years after it first hit the screens in the dark days of Seventies Britain.
Quite why, is not clear. After all, it’s four years shy of its 50th anniversary and six years late for its 40th. Has director Ridley Scott snuffed it? Nope. Mind you, the agency which devised the ad, Collett Dickenson Pearce has been six foot under for years.
Hovis marketing director Jeremy Gibson made a half-decent fist of trying to justify the relaunch by insisting “we have always been about being real, honest people, with a passion for baking bread. The values of our brand have never been more relevant”.
A nod to Brexit by bigging up British values perhaps? In which case, it has just alienated half the country. Timed to coincide with Donald Trump’s visit to Britain? Well, Hovis might be on safer ground there.
Of course, you know the plot. Northern lad huffs and puffs as he pushes his bread-delivery bike up t’steep cobbled slope (which just so happens to be in Dorset) in an effort to earn a crust for his family. He drops off t’loaf and then free-wheels back down t’hill to the voiceover: “T’was like taking bread to top of t’world – t’was a grand ride back, though.”
All to the strains of Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, which has been re-recorded by the next generation of the Ashington Colliery Band.
The film has been restored by RSA Films and the British Film Institute National Archive, whose head curator Robin Baker said: “‘Boy on the bike’ is a mini-masterpiece of big, nostalgic emotion, but the original elements have been ravaged by time. It is now fully restored to its former glory for new generations to enjoy. It looks and sounds as good today as it did in 1973.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? Well, what are you expecting…everyone to say “what a pile of crap”? Of course, it’s a great ad, what’s not to like? Beautifully shot, it’s got the lot – pathos, joy, Northern lad on a push bike and bread – and that’s a heady mix. The timing might be a bit suspicious… Has Hovis’ current agency run out of ideas? Judging by last year’s Sherlock Gnomes tie-up it is entirely possible. But does it make us long for toast? Good god, of course it does. Now, where did I put the butter…
Decision Marketing Adometer: 9½ out of 10 (½ point deducted for dubious timing)
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