mount gay rum
Blum/Herbstreith, New York
Remy Amerique, New York
Alan Blum, Charles Herbstreith
John Huet (people), Edward Hing (bottle and glass)
Let the word go forth: No competing brand is going to displace Mount Gay as the official rum of women who pour pitchers of water over their heads. Aficionados of rum advertising will recall that the brand used the same photo in an ad last year, with completely different copy. The text that time: “There’s a part of your brain that thinks clothes are overrated and loves to beat on drums and is not afraid of the IRS. It relaxes with a cool Mount Gay on the rocks.” For a brand that wished to identify itself with sybaritic relaxation, this copy had an air of trying too hard. The headline in this new ad isn’t earth-shaking, but it provides an acceptable excuse for running a photo of the winner of a wet-blouse contest. The level of the wordplay–neither too sophisticated nor too oafish–seems suitably calibrated to the tone of the brand’s motto: “the primitive spirit refined.” Still, is it wise to use the same photo in two quite different ads? At least some of the rum-soaked target audience will remember having seen the image before. In a category like rum, people put a premium on authenticity. The reuse of a photo with new text makes Mount Gay look calculating, ready to say whatever it thinks might manipulate consumers. At least, that’s one possibility. On the other hand, perhaps it will present Mount Gay as a brand whose indolent executives use whatever photo is easiest to grab so they can get back to the beach in time for happy hour. If that’s the way the ad comes across, it’s an ingenious way of bonding with hardcore party animals.
brennan’s smoke shop
Ingalls Advertising, Boston
Brennan’s Smoke Shop, Quincy, Mass.
Steve Bautista, Rob Rich
There the cigar smoker is, in a shop that caters to his widely despised habit. Now, surely, he can enjoy a brief respite from the drumbeat of anti-smoking rhetoric. But no. The target audience will get a laugh out of this in-store ad, but it’s apt to be rather nervous laughter. After all, the customer knows the gist of “those silly anti-smoking commercials” is not so silly. He’s trying to forget about them, but he doesn’t believe they’re false when they speak of the harm smoking will do. In this inner sanctum of smokerdom, does he really want to be reminded of these uncomfortable truths? Intended to sound brash, the headline sounds vaguely defensive instead. The same goes for another ad in the series: “Cigars ain’t healthy and women find them disgusting. Will we ever run out of selling points?” Good try, but no cigar.
Park Hyatt Hotels
Hyatt Hotels Corp., Chicago
It’s fun to be flattered for the fine qualities you have. It’s even more fun to be flattered for the fine qualities you don’t have. At least, it’s nice to be lauded for virtues the world doesn’t always credit you with. Thus, a football player will thrill to praise of his talent as an amateur musician, while a member of the philharmonic will savor plaudits for his skill as a sandlot quarterback. Countless ads fawn on upscale business travelers as modern-day warriors who merit pampering when they retire from the field of battle for the day. But who ever thinks to treat them as cultivated individuals who’d know their way around a museum? Well, maybe they aren’t so cultivated, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy such flattery all the same. Because it differs so radically from the kind of deference usually paid to the target audience, this ad’s approach will cut through the clutter in an especially pleasing way. At the same time, by adopting the style of a museum catalogue, the ad frees itself from the standard puffery of hotel ads–a currency debased by rhetorical inflation.
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
American Isuzu Motors, City of Industry, Calif.
30-, 60-second TV
Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein
Bruce Dowad Associates, Hollywood, Calif.
An Eden is ravaged by capitalism. Is that a weird theme for an automotive spot, or what? Sounds like what you’d expect in a message urging you not to buy a car. Anyhow, this spot opens with a shot of deer serenely browsing. Ominous thuds signal that something is awry, and we see a giant (attired in business suit) trampling a tree underfoot. The Brobdingnagian tycoon is carrying a skyscraper, which he slams onto the virgin land, along with walls and signs bearing such words as “NO” and “OBEY.” Into this authoritarian nightmare comes a peppy Isuzu Rodeo. The giant tries to stomp on it; the Isuzu is too quick. With the giant in futile pursuit, the Isuzu zips out of the fenced-off area, toppling in its wake a sign that says “RULES.” As the giant trips over his own fence, a voiceover chimes in: “The new, 205-horsepower Isuzu Rodeo. Completely reinvented to ignore boundaries.” However you feel about boundaries, the opposition between the Isuzu and the nasty businessman seems utterly contrived. Last I heard, these vehicles were not being handmade at hippie communes and Isuzu wasn’t a non-profit institution. Nor were cars regarded as the natural allies of unspoiled nature. The spot is fun to watch, but its message feels more than a little phony. By the way, the spot is behind the curve in its use of deer as emblems of prelapsarian nature. These days, exasperated exurbanites refer to them as rats with antlers, and the rest of us see them less as cuddly Bambis than as vehicles for delivering Lyme disease.
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