Arnell Serves Tequila With a Twist

NEW YORK Jose Cuervo has abandoned the legions of beautiful partygoers that populated its print ads to let consumers in on some trade secrets: the tequila can make you handsome, witty and improve your cell-phone reception.

Wink, wink.

Three executions created by Arnell Group in New York continue to employ the campaign’s black-and-white photography and tagline, “Vive Cuervo,” but have fun with wildly overstated ad claims.

“This is a natural evolution of the campaign,” said Byron Hoover, Cuervo’s director of international advertising. “If Cuervo is a brand that has a mischievous side to it, then it would be the natural next step to make a little mischief with the campaign.”

“Electric” offers a twist on the subliminal message that the product will attract the opposite sex. The ad features a beautiful woman touching a bald man’s head, causing her hair to stand on end. The “It makes you electric” boast is footnoted by the disclaimer, “Not true. But sparks may fly anyway.”

Another ad shows angels cuddling up to the devil in a lounge booth. “It makes you irresistible,” claims the copy. The truth is in the fine print: “Not true. Unless you’re already charming and handsome.”

In the third ad, cell-phone reception is improved if you drink Cuervo. “Not true,” states the text. “But its been known to make people speak louder.”

The series is appearing in the March issues of FHM, Details, GQ, Cosmopolitan and Rolling Stone, among other magazines. An outdoor campaign will include water tower ads in and around New York that carry a “Water is boring” headline.

Cuervo International spent $8.4 million on advertising in 2001 and $11.5 million from January through November 2002, according to CMR. Hoover said spending will remain “in line with years past.”

Arnell has held the Jose Cuervo account since it relaunched the brand in 2000.