Brown Thomas – how we laughed


On Sunday I went to see the new Pedro Almodovar film ‘Pain and Glory’ at the Irish Film Institute. It is a wonderful film.

Before the screening I was plonked on my chair watching the adverts when a very strange clip started playing. It was clearly an advert – but for what. There wasn’t a single clue offered. The piece featured an impossibly beautiful young couple lobbing the gob on each other in various, artistically lit, beautiful set pieces. They were shifting in the water, on land, in the woods, in their tastefully appointed, luxurious home, everywhere. Meanwhile a romantic piece of music played over the imagery of the tonsil hockey. The singer telling us of the earth shattering love between the French kissers. About how their love would get each other through. Tragedy in flattering lighting envelops the couple for a brief moment. Their love tastefully endures however.

I stared at the advert in astonishment. This was clearly a serious advert about saving lives or fighting a terrible illness.

On and on it went – for over two minutes. I still hadn’t the foggiest what it was about.

It remained a mystery until the very last frame when the words ‘Brown Thomas’ appeared on the screen.

For readers outside of Ireland, Brown Thomas is a very high-end department store that has branches in various locations around the country. Its English equivalent would probably be Harrods. Its Dutch counterpart De Bijenkorf. It sells designer clothes, jewellery, luggage at outrageous prices.

When the words ‘Brown Thomas’ appeared onscreen something remarkable happened.

The entire cinema audience burst out laughing at the ludicrousness of the clip. The laughter was sustained for several seconds. This wasn’t a random chuckle. The crowded cinema found the advert quite hilarious. I am fairly certain that this is not the reaction Brown Thomas was aiming for.

It won’t encourage me to shop at Brown Thomas. What I know for sure now is how deeply run the notions of Brown Thomas – the Posh Aldi.

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