Halifax AdThere was a time when you knew a trend, a craze or band was naff because they started be referenced in adverts. In the heady days of the eighties, when Studio Line adverts were on rotation during The Tube and The Chart Show, it became painfully obvious that the disparity between the hairdos on offer on the pop shows had moved beyond Clairol’s dreams. And does anyone remember the Sigue Sigue Sputnik alike band on the Kit-Kat Advert: “You can’t sing, you can’t play – you’ll go a long way”? Well, they would have only gone far if they had a time machine and killed Bow Wow Wow.

But as we know, we now live in a hyper-wotsit-multi-mediaed-pan-poly-sexual world when trends fly by in mere seconds. Which may well be why, when watching the new Halifax ad I was not overly shocked to see Howard usurped by a new member of Halifax staff*. One who looks surprisingly like Beth Ditto of The Gossip. Not only that, but the schtick (‘Reatha’s “Think”) is one which Ditto would slay with her Southern sass, and as a performance this Halifax ad out does most in recent years.

Would this ad have been made without Ditto’s prominence (and when we say prominence we measure this by covers not record sales of course)? I think not. Indeed Beth’s garrulousness mixed with her, in style mag terms, unusual looks has suddenly opened the door slightly for the oversized star. Probably not opened the door enough for them to get through. Much like slating Jade Goody made the tabloids feel OK about their casual racism, Ditto’s fat-and-proud status just means they can absolve themselves of size zero responsibility for a month or so. But what is really interesting is that, in terms of Ditto’s fame, Halifax have probably pegged it right. In some ways it has overestimated the number of people who have heard her sing.

As for the calendar aspect. It is February: expect a couple of months of financial services ads. We have booked our summer holidays and are now worried about having enough spending money. Also end of tax yea ISA allowances. And Halifax lead the way with their carnival.

*Howard does rock up in the ad, looking suitably impressed by the new frontwoman’s lungs.