“Oo torcher to play the drums?” asked a cheeky girl from Essex the other day.
I knew instantly that she was referring to the TV commercial in which a gorilla does the stick-work in a famous pop song.
“You have mistaken me for another ape,” I answered curtly. “My forte lies in wind rather than percussion.”
“Ha-ha, I bet it does!” she exclaimed, chuckling hoarsely.
“If you inhaled my wind instead of cigarette smoke your voice might be rather less rasping.” I said with a smirk.
She reacted to this kindly advice by sticking out her tongue. I responded by sticking out my own tongue. One must be robust when sparring with the chav.
I wouldn’t have been the Cadbury’s gorilla even if I had been a virtuoso drummer – their chocolate is frankly B-grade. But I did once apply for a role in an advertisement for Levi Strauss & Co. It was the one where an affected young man swaggers into a laundrette and stuffs his jeans into a washing machine. I wasn’t interested in his part, of course – a gorilla would never encase his loins in anything so tight. No, I wanted to play the character who sits next to the boy as he peruses a periodical in his boxer shorts.
So Dr Whipsnade arranged a meeting with the Levi Strauss bigwigs. I told them that if they really wanted to be cutting edge they should have me in the commercial instead of the constipated fat man who turns to stare at the lad after he sits down. I said I’d give the boy the famous “your mamma’s in my harem” glare of the male gorilla. It would be a sight to make the pantless jean-aspiring demographic gasp in awe.
“An intriguing idea, Mr Bananas,” said the biggest of the bigwigs. “But why would a gorilla be in a laundrette?”
Thinking on my hands and feet, I said: “I could enter wearing my circus pantaloons and put them in the next-door machine.”
The man sucked on his pen. “Leave it with us,” he said. “We’ll discuss it with our creative people.”
They later wrote to say that my proposal had been vetoed on the grounds that it would “make a mockery” of the Levi's brand, which shows how much those punks know.
Those who hope to see me in a TV commercial may yet be indulged. No less a concern than The Coca-Cola Company has asked me to star in a film promoting their caffeinated pop. Unfortunately, the script they sent me was utterly daft. It has a gorilla accepting a bunch of bananas from a thirsty man and handing him a bottle of Coke in return. We gorillas rarely barter with humans and never ask for bananas when we do. Why pay for fruit that we can pluck for free?
So I’ve sent them my own idea, which I think you’ll agree is a pippin. It's basically a remake of the most famous Coke advert of all – the one where pretty young humans of all races congregate on a hill and sing in perfect harmony. The symbolism was powerful but the idealism was unrealistic. Anyone knows that bringing feuding tribes together requires a mediator: a disinterested party, that is to say, who allays mutual suspicions by acting as an honest broker. This is the role I would assume, first playing the opening bars of the tune on my recorder (in close-up), then conducting the motley choir in the vocals. In essence, I would replace the blond American virgin who sang the first line of the song in the original.
They are currently evaluating my proposal, no doubt testing it with focus groups and estimating its likely impact on cola drinkers in every market segment. You don’t rush into a ground-breaking advertising campaign when you’re promoting a brand as big as Coca-Cola. The good news is that they’ve recently appointed a new head of advertising who is both homosexual and a fan of the circus. I believe he saw me perform in San Francisco. You can always trust the gays to give a fair hearing to revolutionary concepts in art.
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