Robbie Williams Advertising

It's an ineffably old-fashioned way of selling a very new platform, the mobile medium. T-Mobile's the first network to lead in their advertising on delivering the internet - all of it, not just snippets, they say insistently to your mobile. And all the other stuff that goes with full medium status, like alerts to Robbie's new output, discounts for his concerts and messages from Pizza Hut. There's a long tradition of "star cameos" US TV of the 1970s and 1980s especially where the star pitches up as his wonderful self and puts all the fictional people around into a deeply embarrassing, skin-crawlingly kind of tizz. The T-Mobile commercial conforms in every particular. There's a Robbie fan, a wonderfully ordinary woman with an Anglia TV local reporter 1992 kind of look, getting an alert on her mobile, "Robbie seen in hotel", and plunging into Hotel Babylon to find him. Inside, everyone's a bit Robbie, the man on reception, a child on a sofa, a floor-cleaner with a machine, a groom in an awful suit have all been computer-tricked to look Robbie-ish. The poor girl's looking distinctly flakey when she steps back and bumps into the real, completely evolved jacket and T-shirt, wry charm and laddish swagger Robbie thing. I can't tell you how often I've seen this bit of choreography, but I know it's completely formula-compliant. The quizzical acknowledgment, the momentary eye-contact, the moving on. There's probably an American word for it, and it's own dissertation ("fiction and reality in the post-war celebrity cameo"). The product's called Web and Walk, T-Mobile's German and Robbie's back in the Rolls to W11 by now.

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