Barbara Lippert’s Critique

I actually felt sorry for the guy wearing the $1.59 bear suit in this anemic Coors Light campaign, so it was a relief to see that in one of the later spots, he gets to take off the suffocating head, revealing his own bald one, and sit down on the yellow couch with the other two doofuses and have a beer. A beer break for a SAG bear is a novelty.

If a campaign is going to be this dumb, at least it’s studiedly dumb and can make fun of itself.

With a very strong media buy, this Coors Light campaign is everywhere and certainly getting the word out. Or “word up,” as the phrase was used six months ago in a Toyota commercial, one of several bear spots that broke around that time. There was Volkswagen, Toyota, Smir noff Ice and Mc Don ald’s, and later the John West salmon campaign (in Eng land, but e-mailed everywhere), all giving us bear overload in ads. Back then I thought the sudden spate must have some greater meaning—that bears symbolized the concept of what’s left to fear, whether that threat is real (if there is a bear in the woods …) and whether we can stand up to it. Mostly, it seemed like a male thing and also, unfortunately, a foreshadowing of the powerful bear market to come.

But none of that deep thought applies to this Coors Light campaign. Rather, it’s an amalgam of most of the TV and ad clichés we’ve seen for the last couple of years, starting with the Seinfeld-ian two guys on the couch, with a bike hanging vertically on the wall behind them. The whole ice and fake-snow thing has been used by every brand with ice in its name. Also, we’ve seen the two-stooges routine in everything from Reebok to Bud Light commercials. And the setup—re peating the same question-and-answer bit—evokes the Bud Light “Gimme a light” campaign from the late ’80s. Or does it? In its general hostility and unfunny repetition, the gag is more like, “How would you like a nice Hawaiian Punch?” which, when acted out widely in the ’60s, became the bane of elementary school teachers everywhere.

In this version, our Coors host, all grown up but pretty much the same, asks a buddy, “Ready for a cold one?” The guy always answers “yeah,” and then our host pulls his chain, or rather a chain that happens to be suspended from the ceiling over his couch (what a practical jokester!) and dumps a giant load of feathers, er, snow on his guest.

“Is that cold enough for ya?” the host, charming fellow, inquires. And his pal, with a hat made of feathers, I mean snow, and icicles on his face, always makes his way out of the recently fallen tundra, remaining undeterred enough to point out, “It’s cold, but it’s not Coors Light.” Then we hear, “Brewed at the edge of freezing to lock in that Rocky Mountain cold taste …” Oh, that kooky Rocky Mountain cold!

The worst execution in volves an igloo falling on the guest and inside, yes—his very own Eskimette! The Bimbeskimo is told that she can “drop in anytime.” The gifted one seems so embarrassed about the line that he delivers it like Groucho by way of the Vlasic Pickle guy.

One of the snowed-on guys at least has the sang-froid to ask Mr. Chain Puller, “You don’t date much, do you?” Another guest, who looks like a refugee from a Mountain Dew commercial, what with his ’70s-inspired do highlighted in blond buttery chunks in the front, does get some comebacks. He’s the one who gets to share quality couch time with the bear (this time with his head on), and, waving his hands over his nose, says, “Somebody had fish for lunch.” That’s about as funny as it gets.

Think of it as a light beer not in touch with its emotional intelligence. Or to put it another way, a campaign that’s not smarter than the average bear commercial. And that seems to be just what was intended.