These Dave & Buster’s Spots Are Weird, but They Definitely Get Your Attention

Mother banks on ‘Ding, Ding, Ding’ to drive brand awareness

Meg is perfect in new work for Dave & Buster's from Mother. Dave & Buster's
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Some may say the quirky tagline is dead, but history shows us that when done well, it can become a magical thing that seeps into culture. The best recent example was the phenomenon that was Wieden+Kennedy’s “Dilly Dilly” for Bud Light.

Hoping to put their own spin in an attempt to enter the lexicon, Mother recently launched some quirky—OK, they’re flat-out weird—spots for Dave & Buster’s, a brand that the agency scooped up in June after a pitch in March. To be clear, the almost cartoonishly over-the-top approach, including a vibrant visual rebrand, isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The anchor spot in the campaign, Meg, stands out like the sweetest sore thumb, locked up with the spot’s “Ding, Ding, Ding” positioning.

According to Avinash Baliga, a Mother creative who has been on the account since the beginning, the idea was the stand out on the crowded “eat-a-tainment” space (think places like Buffalo Wild Wings and the like, where one eats, but also may drop a few bucks on pop-a-shot and video games). The strategic idea of “Ding, Ding, Ding” came early as the Mother New York team leaned into the senses, especially audio.

“If you close your eyes and listen to a Dave & Buster’s you’ll hear a bunch of voices (in the games) saying things like, ‘Great job,’ ‘You’re on a roll’ or ‘Awesome,’” Baliga said. “It’s crazy positive reinforcement,” and something that plays an obviously large role in the “Meg” spot as she takes her newly-found spirit and applies it to the rest of her life.

“Ding, Ding, Ding” certainly changes the perception consumers have about the brand compared to previous campaigns that were much more promotional in nature and not as evocative of the experience as one might expect.

“We’ve been through the process where we’ve had a tagline that’s working too hard,” Baliga said. “You can circle around ideas and it seems correct, but it’s not fun. It can end up being a long process, and then you land on something like ‘Ding, Ding, Ding,’ and it becomes obvious that it’s the million-dollar strategy.”

Other spots in the campaign—including some funky six-second hits—balance the fine line of explaining what Dave & Buster’s actually is in a more abstract way, but with the feeling of each one to be about winning, feel-good vibes and joy.

“I think that every creative grapples a little bit [with concepts like this],” Baliga said. “Is it OK to be funny or is there room for a fun campaign? This work felt like a natural jump from before and we wanted it to be authentic.”

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@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.