Justin Timberlake is almost unrecognizable as a lime in “No Limes Needed” for Sauza 901, his tequila brand.
An online ad tells the story of the rise and fall of the lime’s popularity. Playing a bit like a VH1 Behind the Music segment, the spot starts with the disgruntled lime post-fall, then focuses on the rise of limes as an antidote for “pucker-face” before Sauza 901 came out with a tequila so smooth limes weren’t needed anymore. It’s a clever way to emphasize the brand’s selling point, and it manages to use Timberlake in a way where he’s not just hocking his celebrity.
According to Kevin George, global CMO at Sauza parent company Beam Suntory, Timberlake actually created the concept for the spot. “He came in and said, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking,’ and right away we knew it was something completely different for the category,” he told Fast Company. “Our meeting was literally an hour long, and in that short time we decided to make it happen. Did I have some reservations? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, we decided to figure it out and get it done. It’s been a great collaboration, but it largely comes from his idea and the tone he wanted to set for the brand.”
The over three minute long online spot was posted today, with a 30-second broadcast version set to make its debut tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo. Timberlake also appears as himself in a shorter online ad (featured below), in which he offers some alternative uses for limes.