He’s one of British motoring’s most famous faces with a job we’d give our eye teeth for, he’s done Airfix, he’s done Scalextric, and now he’s doing Lego – no, not Top Gear’s James May but Lewis Hamilton.
High-profile McLaren sponsors Santander are in the process of decamping to Ferrari in support of Fernando Alonso, but they’re staying with the Woking team this year so that Hamilton can be the public face of their rebranding of High Street names Abbey and Bradford & Bingley.
In support of this they have released a third in their series of adverts featuring Hamilton interacting with traditional British toys.
In the first two we saw him shrunk so that he could step into Airfix and Scalextric versions of his McLaren race car, but the third one goes in the opposite direction – giant Lego bricks are used to build a road bridge so that a bored-looking family can drive on unbothered by a deep gorge.
There’s a nice moment at the end where the son wakes up in time to see Hamilton nod to him from the finished bridge – he shakes his sister to draw her attention and you just know she isn’t going to believe a word of it.
But, overall, it’s something of a disappointment compared with the previous ads. And it’s all Mr May’s fault.
Anyone can build a bridge with CGI Lego – he built a house with the real stuff. And if you saw the BBC show in which he did it you’re ruined for the Santander ad, because you simply cannot help but look at the construction work going on in the advert and think ‘that’ll never hold’.
The memory of May destroying item after item of Lego furniture by doing nothing more than sitting on it or picking it up is quite enough to bring out the teeth-sucking builder in all of us and make us say in unison ‘you don’t want to try that, mate’.
Which is a shame, because under other circumstances it would be a fun advert. But the fact is, the idea has been pushed too far. The Hamilton Airfix ad was a delightful surprise. The Scalextric one was pretty good, but a bit samey. This, sadly, is all rather ho-hum.
The fact that, by unlucky timing, it appears when a better version of the same idea is fresh in everyone’s memory is just the final nail in its coffin.
Perhaps it’s just as well that Santander are Ferrari-bound, or 2011 might have been the year we saw Lewis Hamilton saddle up on My Little Pony.