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  • Mike Johnston

There’s Always Room for One More on the Rocket Ship


Why Comedy Is the Most Effective Way to Advertise

My agency compatriots and I were huddled in our client’s boardroom. I sheepishly stalled, and then ’fessed up. I told the client I wanted to change the logo. It wasn’t just any logo. This logo has been an institution in the Pacific Northwest for almost 100 years. But the old girl was showing her age. I knew as the words were leaving my mouth that I had become “that guy,” the creative who wants to mark his territory by changing the logo. There was a long pause.

And then my client agreed. I told her I only wanted to make it read better across all mediums. And then under my breath I muttered “…and fix the kerning.” In the end, I believe we kept the soul of the mark – changing it from a cartoonish illustration to a strong, familiar brand anchor.

Change is good. Sometimes. Other times, you might be creating the next New Coke.

A case in point is the long-running Dos Equis campaign “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” featuring an American actor, Jonathan Goldsmith. Heineken, the parent company of Dos Equis, says sales have nearly tripled since the campaign started airing in 2007.

And then someone decided they needed a younger “Most Interesting Man in the World.” At the time, Goldsmith was 77 years old. So they shot his character into outer space… because there can be only one “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

The new campaign kept the familiar music and the narrator, Will Lyman, and introduced a younger French actor, Augustin Legrand, in Goldsmith’s role.

To paraphrase the brand strategy, Dos Equis wanted to reach a younger audience, so they cast a younger character. Legrand is 41 years old. They also liked the fact that he would appeal to a multicultural audience and was fluent in Spanish. There was only one small problem with this strategy.

The writing wasn’t nearly as good. It’s not bad, but… The original campaign raised the bar. More is expected when you follow a legend. There’s obviously going to be comparisons, and anything less than stellar is going to fall flat. Take for example, George Lazenby following Sean Connery as James Bond.

In the new campaign, where are the lines like these?

Once, a rattlesnake bit him. After five days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died.

His feet don’t get blisters, but his shoes do.

He once went to a psychic, to warn her.

He can speak Russian… in French.

The circus ran away to join him.

He once won a staring contest with his own reflection.

He bowls overhand.

The Holy Grail is looking for him.

He once started a fire using only dental floss and water.

He has won the lifetime achievement award… twice.

Mosquitoes refuse to bite him, purely out of respect.

He lives vicariously through himself.

His 10-gallon hat holds 20 gallons.

In museums, he is allowed to touch the art.

Bigfoot tries to get pictures of him.

When he goes to Spain, he chases the bulls.

Bear hugs are what he gives bears.

Once he ran a marathon because it was on the way.

He is the life of parties he has never attended.

Presidents take his birthday off.

You can successfully follow a legend. Steve Young took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl after Joe Montana left. But it’s the exception, not the rule. Judge for yourself as you watch the latest adventures of “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” I fear someone might be preparing to launch another rocket ship.

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Mike Johnston is a production executive and advertising creative in Seattle. He is available for freelance consulting, writing and directing. Contact Mike.

Wanna know what the funniest characters in advertising have in common? Read all about it.

#Comedy #FunnyCommericals #MarketingStrategy #Branding