Author of Crash and Empire of the Sun, J. G. Ballard once said that a commercial showing ‘robots’ building a Fiat car was his favorite advert of all time.
Ballard made the claim on Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4’s long-running music and interview show, in February 1992, when he shared the 8 records that best represented his life with presenter, Sue Lawley.
As Ballard explained:
‘I like the overture to Rossini’s Barber of Seville, which many people will have heard as the background music to a wonderful Fiat ad. that was shown on television a few years ago. I think my favorite TV commercial of all time.’
It was Rossini’s “Figaro’s Aria” from the opera that was used in this famous Fiat Strada advert from 1979. The commercial was directed by Hugh Hudson, who is best-known for the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire. Hudson’s ad was a compelling mix of technology with opera, and was well-known for its tag-line:
Hand built by Robots
That was later famously spoofed on Not the NIne O’Clock News as:
Hand built by Roberts
Amongst Ballard‘s other favorite tracks on Desert island Discs were Noël Coward’s version of “Let’s Do It”, Astrud Gilberto being breathily seductive on “The Girl From Ipanema”, Rita Hayworth and “Put The Blame On Mame”, Henry Hall’s “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” and Marlene Dietrich singing “Falling In Love Again”.
Ballard also remarked that he considered himself a “disappointed painter’:
‘I think in many ways I am a sort of disappointed painter, I always wanted to be a painter, but simply lacked the technical ability, lacked the talent. In fact, people say my novels are tremendously visual, in a sense I paint my novels, there you have the life work of a frustrated painter.
Previously on Dangerous Minds