Creative: New Campaigns

Agency: Weiss Stagliano Partners, New York
Client: Guinness Import Co., Stamford, Conn.
Creative Director: Marty Weiss
Art Directors: Andrea D’Aquino, Todd Gallentine
Copywriters: Keith Klein, Mark Mendelis
Director: Christopher Guest
Production Co.: Moxie Pictures
Legend In Its Time: Bass’ Magnificent Obsession
By Andrew McMains
Call it destiny. It’s not every actor who can meet these key requirements: credible, passionate and yes, weird. Happily, Weiss Stagliano Partners’ three-month search for the “Bass-Obsessed Man,” the lead in Bass Ale’s first TV campaign, hit pay dirt. But finding the actor was only part of the challenge; Weiss Stagliano also needed a director.
The agency considered everyone from legendary auteur Martin Scorsese to indie favorites Jim Jarmusch and Steve Buscemi, who offered to act and direct. The agency, however, chose a combination of dry wit and unbridled enthusiasm: Christopher Guest, star of This Is Spinal Tap and director of last year’s award-winning Fox NHL campaign from Cliff Freeman and Partners, and Donal Logue, a Kenneth Branagh look-alike whose credits include Jerry Maguire and The X-Files. “He’s the kind of guy you’d find in a pub,” says creative director Marty Weiss of the casting.
Logue portrays a thirty-something guy touting a bottle of Bass and a encyclopedic knowledge of Bass tales. Three 30-second spots (also :60s), which broke in late November, showcase his ability to tell true stories, courtesy of the Bass Museum in Burton-on-Kent, England. The setting is an English pub in Santa Monica, Calif. Each spot begins with an order of the British ale–an invitation for the “Bass-Obsessed Man” to tell a tale.
The new campaign, which also consists of radio spots and point-of-purchase materials and will be backed by an estimated $8-10 million budget in ’99, introduces the tagline, “Legendary for a reason.”
But the target audience remains the same: college-educated twenty- and thirty-somethings with white-collar jobs and a taste for microbeers. The latest crop of ads capitalizes on Bass’ place in history.
“You know that’s not just a Bass you’re pouring,” Logue says to a bartender as he serves a beer to a brunette in a red dress. Before the bartender responds, Logue explains that Picasso depicted Bass bottles in his paintings. “He painted Bass more than some of his wives,” he gushes.
Napoleon’s love for Bass and “Siege of Paris 1871” are the stories behind the other spots. In “Siege of Paris,” Logue uses the bottle to show how a hot-air balloon crossed the English Channel. In “Napoleon,” Logue laughingly explains the futility of trying to build a Bass brewery on the gypsum terrain in France.
The product placement is subtle–by design. “We wanted it to be a natural part of the story,” explains Adam Stagliano, president and director of account planning.
The current work is a departure from the agency’s last efforts for Bass: print ads that featured a boot-licking businessman and a middle-aged man covered with tattoos. Still, the TV spots are reminiscent of the agency’s first Bass work in the early ’90s for Guinness Import Co., which used historic figures to leverage the brand’s heritage.
“It makes relevant the fact that Bass was around,” boasts Reggie Fils-Aime, vice president of marketing at Guiness, “and part of these historic events.”