Vodafone’s ‘First Crush’ TV ad: The Irish answer to ‘Call Me By Your Name’

Following that charming Gaeltacht spot that may have caused just a few of us existential crises about wasted youth, Vodafone are continuing their run of TV ads about how great it is to grow up middle class in Ireland with “First Crush”, the story of two star-crossed pre-teens who meet one summer and use Vodafone’s high-speed data to share special moments.

This ad and its accompanying billboard campaign (and they are fucking everywhere) is, for all its issues, sort of my jam. So I’m going to treat the 40 second clip like the Richard Linklater movie it most certainly isn’t and take you through it scene by scene.

So the boy (let’s call him Eoin) reads books?! Unlikely, aspirational, a nice thought. Why is he reading a book when the French family are arriving at the house? Surely he knows they’re coming. And could he please wear shoes.

Apparently the silly boy didn’t Facebook stalk the French in advance, cause he is visibly surprised that the daughter of the family is every mysterious European teenage girl stereotype thrown into one.

Now I have a conspiracy theory: I’m not convinced the actress playing the girl (who we’ll call Bérnice) is actually French. She’s got an Emily Browning sort of look that could quite easily be Irish/English and before I saw this ad, from the billboards, I had no reason to believe she was foreign at all. Her “Bonjour” is pretty much the only evidence the family are, in fact, French. Her parents might very well be from Kerry.

How did he get her phone number??? I guess he finally got around to that Facebook stalk, eh. What a lame message to send, but tbh I’d probably do the same myself if the girl didn’t speak English. And are we buying that it’s 5:33pm? Looks more like 8 or 9 in the evening to me, if this is supposed to be taking place midsummer.

This is honestly more upsetting than many of the Disappointed Elio moments in Call Me By Your Name because it’s contemporary, it involves phones and it’s so fucking relatable.

Worst moment of the ad. The most base-level “French is a weird language, innit” comedy. Confusing “chevaux” and “chevaille” just isn’t very funny once you’ve done First Year of Junior Cert French. And her hair isn’t particularly beautiful, so he’s just desperate for something to say. Implausible, badly written.

I feel ya girl.

Girl determining “fuck it I’ll do it myself” is another hella relatable beat. But what are they listening to anyway? A shitty podcast about the history of tape measures? And why are they sitting in a different environment to the one on the billboards? Have they shared headphones multiple times during this trip?

Awww, so before she leaves she gives him a handmade bracelet. Nice. But there’s a look of pity in her eyes, more than affection.

Maybe there’s some incredible chemistry I’m missing, but my ultimate takeaway is that she’s merely offering him a sympathetic parting gift after realising what his feelings are. This doesn’t seem like a mutual situation.

Not reading yo book are you now, nerd??

So anyway, I think this ad is pretty charming and effective and I don’t really understand how it promotes Vodafone’s product but it’s certainly memorable and better than the Gaeltacht one. I guess there are probably more coming down the road.

(Note: some people aren’t so happy with the ad, lol)