Ad of the Day: Rubio’s Gets Deep in Salute to the Ocean

Does barrettSF's solemn approach sink or swim?

In today's culinary environment, a restaurant needs more than good food, solid service and aesthetically pleasing décor to gain public acclaim. Its ingredients need to be coddled, too.

Beef must be grass-fed, the chickens free-range, and baby lettuce should be softly serenaded with lullabies every night. And we're not just talking about trendy farm-to-table restaurants here—hell, even McDonald's has been waxing poetic about its suppliers. Now, Rubio's, a West Coast purveyor of fish tacos, is running a campaign from barrettSF that attempts to pay grand homage to the source of its famous seafood, with rather mixed results.

"To the ocean, that mythical beast of such enormity, to be calm and calming," proclaims a gravelly voice with a level of solemnity that almost belies the fact that it's narrating a spot for a fast-casual taco purveyor, not a Discovery Channel special. "Its waters bring shrimp and pollock, rain, tilapia," the voice continues, against images of waves bobbing upon a vast ocean filled with tilapia, that most majestic of creatures.

But a fish taco needs more than just fish. After bringing said seafood to shore, it's time to "blacken the fish, pluck the lime, slice avocados and chilis in a place that is itself very much the ocean, full of great things, patient, swift and afloat," the narrator continues, seemingly unaware that he's not making much sense.

The point of the ad is clear—Rubio's respects the ocean, hooray for sustainability, etc.—but the execution is a bit of a head-scratcher. Is the strangely somber, perplexing narration actually a commentary on the vast unfathomability of the sea? Or is it just another ad by a fast-casual restaurant taking itself a bit too seriously?

Either way, I'm craving a fish taco.


Client: Rubio's

Spot: "To the Ocean"

Agency: barrettSF, San Francisco

Creative Directors: Pete Harvey, Jamie Barrett

Copywriter: Pete Harvey

Art Director: Nik Daum

Executive Producer: Kacey Hart

Managing Partner: Patrick Kelly

Account Director: Molly Warner

Senior Proofreeder: Saul Sabarr

Production Company: Academy Films

Director: Marcus Söderlund

Director of Photography: Allan Wilson

Head of Content, Producer: James Cunningham

Editorial Company: Cut + Run, London

Editor: Ben Campbell

Producer: Annabelle Dunbar-Whittaker

Postproduction: Finish, London

Colorist: Paul Harrison

Audio Mix, Sound Design: 740 Sound

Mixer, Sound Designer: Rommel Molina

Music: "Labor" by Small Sur