As if the 2016 presidential election weren't enough of a farce already, a new clown is throwing his hat in the ring: Hotels.com's mascot, Captain Obvious.
In Crispin Porter + Bogusky's latest for the brand, the charismatic buffoon, clad from the waist up in his goofy faux-military dress jacket—but wearing gym shorts below—announces his plans to run for the highest office in the U.S.
The campaign's centerpiece TV ad continues the star's namesake tradition of doing things exactly as he says them. To wit: He delivers his speech from a treadmill instead of a podium, because he's fit for office. Get it?
Introduced in 2014, Captain Obvious always risked being a one-trick pony, but the agency has done a decent job of keeping him alive, with pieces like a Facebook autoplay video ad that's better when muted (the default autoplay setting on Facebook). The new, politically themed gag is a reasonable bit of topical opportunism, insofar as it doesn't depart from the brand's actual business.
And in fairness, there is a real connection, however tangential: Hotels.com estimates that each presidential candidate will spend an average of $405,000 on hotels, including lodging for a dozen staffers, over 212 days on the road during primaries and caucuses.
The humor gets better as you explore the campaign more deeply. Beyond the 60-second spot, a website includes shareable, snackable content, like blasé Captain Obvious GIFs, plus 50 short videos of his "visits" to every state (alongside hotel recommendations). Green-screened on backdrops from each locale, he waxes on about the often-dubious merits of the American landscape.
Overall, it makes for a mixed bag, but the aggregate skews toward hilarious—it's broad enough to keep Captain Obvious in character, but thankfully also avoids overly easy gags. In Florida, a key election swing state, he spends the entire clip—set in the Everglades—swatting at mosquitoes.
The video for Colorado, home to CP+B, includes an inevitable pot joke … but also recounts a lesser-known "fact": That all new arrivals to the state automatically receive labrador retrievers.
Iowa gets a nod to the tradition of deep frying everything, even butter, at its famous state fair. In a moment that showcases actor Brandon Moynihan's knack for physical comedy, he struggles with a bite of a corn dog.
California's showing is weaker, and features an offhand joke about self-important Hollywood types.
It continues down the list of the other states: Being born in Ohio presents a tactical advantage if you plan to run for president. Arizona is famous for a giant hole in the ground. We could go on, but we'll leave you to discover them on your own.
In other words, while his party affiliation isn't immediately clear, it's safe to say Captain Obvious is mostly disinterested—and irreverent. That's probably not a winning political strategy. But he does seem as well-informed any number of other candidates in the field.
Campaign: Captain Obvious Running for President
Chief Creative Officer: Ralph Watson
Executive Creative Director: Matt Talbot
Executive Technology Director: Harold Jones
Creative Director: Brian Friedrich
Associate Creative Directors: Jexy Holman and Nuno Teixeira
Sr. Interactive Developer: Mai Hoang
Designer: Dominic Scariano
Group Executive Producer, Interactive: Jesse Jones
Integrated Head of Video: Kate Hildebrant
Executive Producer: Sloan Schroeder
Sr. Producer, Interactive: Dan Corken
Jr. Producer, Video: Rachel Noonan
Integrated Producer, Video: Addison Born
Jr. Producer, Interactive: Morgan Burrows
Associate Director, Architecture: Benjamin Sterling
Technical Lead: Tim Svensen
Associate Experience Director: David Irons
Production Company: Caviar, Los Angeles
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Director Of Photography: Ken Seng
Executive Producers (Production Co): Jasper Thomlinson, Kim Dellara
Edit Company: PLUS Productions, Santa Monica
Director of Photography: Ryan Simpson
Editors: Lawrence Young, Andrew Ratzlaff
Assistant Editor: Bryce Harvey
Post Executive Producer: Andrea Krichevsky
Post Senior Producer: Lennon Barnica
Postproduction: Method Studios, Santa Monica
Producer (Postproduction Co): Cara Lehr
Flame Artist: Wensen Ho
Quality Assurance: Hook QA
Music Company: Jingle Punks, Forman Brothers Recording (Announcement TV Spot)
Music Track: Hail to the Chief, The British Grenadier (Announcement TV Spot)
Audio Finishing Company: Lime Studios, Santa Monica
Audio Engineers: Mark Meyuhas, Matt Miller
Audio Producer: Susie Boyajan
Telecine Company: CO3, Los Angeles
Telecine Artist: Siggy Ferstl
Telecine Producer: Matt Moran
Managing Director: Danielle Whalen
Account Director: Sarah Castner
Content Supervisors: Brice Tomlinson and Kelly Boyer
Content Managers: Alyssa Fitterer and Ilyssa Schwartz
Group Director, Strategy: Dean McBeth
Executive Business Manager: Natalie Greenman
Business Affairs Manager, Interactive: Lydia Tirpak
Client Titles & Names: Josh Belkin, VP and General Manager NA, Mike Wolfe, Sr. Director of Brand Marketing, Nick Hayes, Director of Advertising, Melissa Postier, Sr. Brand Manager