These are very, very simple 15-second Manwich ads, but DDB West shot them like a boss. The casting and direction (by Lena Beug of Moxie Pictures) are truly incredible, and it doesn't hurt anything that Ron Swanson himself (fine, his name is Nick Offerman) narrates them.* "Who is manlier?" I ask you. No one. That is who.
Part of what makes these so good is that they have an odd spirit-of-the-1980s thing going on, even though they're about current video games and texting and so forth. The gaming spot, in fact, in which the kids appear to be holding something that looks like an Xbox controller, includes no less a personage than the stately lava lamp (which, by the way, will set the house on fire shortly after the spot ends, so eat your sandwiches quick, kids!).
The texting ad features what appears to be a baking-soda volcano. I don't have kids myself, but haven't those gone the way of the dodo and the coat-hanger solar system?
The tagline is: "Hold on. It's Manwich."
It's the simultaneous appeals to nostalgia and contemporary life that make these spots good. And honestly, that's how you have to sell a product like Manwich. It's been around since 1969, and it's one of the ConAgra foods that's culturally homeless. ConAgra is a company, after all, that sells no fewer than three different kinds of candied popcorn: Fiddle Faddle, Poppycock and Crunch 'n' Munch. (Why does it not also own Cracker Jack? Would that comprise an unlawful trust?)
So, now there's clearly a target Manwich consumer, just like there's a target Slim Jim consumer. (He watches UFC and doesn't put down his video-game controller for anything, not even a Manwich.) These little 15-second slices of the Manwich eater's anachronistic life are, like the Manwich itself, surprisingly filling.
*Note: The agency would not confirm it is Offerman doing the voiceovers, though it certainly sounds like him.
Client: Manwich (ConAgra Foods)
Advertising Senior Vice President, ConAgra Foods: Dave Linne
Agency: DDB West, San Francisco
Chief Creative Officer: Lisa Bennett
Director of Content Production: Frank Brooks
Senior Producer: Rob Lee
Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Travis Parr
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Nikki Baker
Group Account Director: Kristin Barbour
Account Supervisor: Annalisa Dreese
Director: Lena Beug
Production Company: Moxie Pictures
Producer: Karol Zeno