Monday, 30 November 2009

How Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods saved the world

If I was Roger Federer (and if it wasn't for the eyebrows, I could be), I'd watch out. A curse that began in ad land has beset the real world.

Thierry Henry was the first to succumb to its power. A mild-mannered, highly-respected, definitely-not-a-cheat footballer sent France through to the World Cup Finals by setting up a goal with his hand.

He is paying for his mistake now that his reputation as a man and a footballer is forever tarnished. The entire population of the world's 20th largest island is against him, and according to Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit, FIFA should be offering Henry more help instead of "sitting around in big chairs".

But assistance is not forthcoming - Henry is alone.

With the furore refusing to die down, what Thierry really needs is another sports superstar to enter the media glare in acriomonious circumstances.

Step forward Tiger Woods, who has unfortunately sustained "some cuts [and] bruising" and is "pretty sore" after a car accident. A very, very strange car accident.

A drive in the early hours ended rather aprubtly when Woods crashed his Cadillac into a fire hydrant and then a tree.

Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, told police that she rescued her husband with the most appropriate tool she could find - one that has made Woods the world's first billionaire sportsman.

So, after smashing the back window (italics equals suspiciousness), Nordegren dragged Woods to safety.

Celebrity website TMZ reported, however, that Nordegren had "gone ghetto" and injured Woods, before the pair made off in some kind of surreal pursuit, during which Nordegren allegedly whacked the car with the golf club, causing Woods to crash. Phewff.

The argument is believed to have occurred because of Woods' relationship with "homewrecking tabloid magnet" Rachel Uchitel. 

"This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect," was Woods' response.

So, two down and one to go. Yes that's right, I'm talking about the Gillette advert. The one with Messrs Federer, Woods and Henry.

With two-thirds of their advertising campaign showing themselves up as a liability - and a public relations disaster - Gillette must be wondering what lies in store for Federer. Little do they realise that it's all their own doing.

The company has altered its latest advert by removing Henry's left hand completely (it happended to be holding a ball and was the same one he used against Ireland).

One wonders whether Woods' club will now be removed - which would leave two men, one minus a hand, standing next to a third man with a tennis racket. That would definitely send out an "it's time to shave!" message.

It's not as if the ad was any good in the first place - last year, industry magazine Campaign named it the worst TV commercial of 2008.

"The Gillette ad is an own goal, a double fault and a bunker shot rolled into one," said Claire Beale, the magazine's editor.

And they keep getting worse - I'm not sure what the hell was going on with the invention of Phenom, and neither does "This, according to the advert, is short for 'phenomenal' but only a pathetic wannabe hipster or middle-management wank stain would ever dare utter it in public."

My thoughts entirely.

With the curse having obviously affected Gillette's marketing department (why did they decide to keep Federer, Woods and Henry after their acting was so badly received?), it was moved on to the 'stars' of the show. 

Federer is the only one left. It's set up perfectly - ending the year top of the ATP rankings, ready to spank everyone during 2010. This time last year he was behind Rafael Nadal. It's too perfect - the curse is simmering nicely, ready to shock Fed with an almighty comedown. I fear for him.

How did the curse come about? Simple - it was self-manifesting; a much-needed regulatory measure that evolved subconsciously to stop Gillette's endless quest for more blades, faster strokes and a smoother feel.

I spent a large proportion of my childhood worrying about where this would end. Every year there was a new model with an extra blade. By the time I hit 17, there would be 71 blades and 51 lubrication strips; men would have evolved massively-out-of-proportion biceps in order to lift the blade to tame their facial hair - a daily battle would have turned into the 100 years war, and the world would have almost certainly ended as a result of en masse self-inflicted slaughter.

But now, thanks to Henry's cheating and Woods' misdemeanours, we can breathe a sigh of relief, stroll down to Tesco and buy some value razors. Minus lubrication strips.

Pic credit: keithmaguire

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