Good Ad Bad Ad
Monday 04 August 1997
This is a beautiful piece of work. It has a lot of drive and energy and you just feel that it's right. I hated the poster executions when they came out - I thought they looked really static and stiff - but I saw them while travelling in Africa and Europe and realised that they worked internationally. But I really started to like them when I saw this film.
There's a girl in a room, and a guy gets thrown in the door by some hooded criminal types. She fires a pistol, and the bullet stops in mid-air, as it's coming towards your face. Then we're into a whole set of chase scenes - on an express train, which converts into a vehicle, which is being chased and shot at by a Doom-game spacecraft. That all changes into a rainy Manhattan street, where we see the hooded criminals kick a door open - and we're back where we started. It's like a great track on an album that you want to put straight back to the start when it ends; you want to watch it all over again.
It's not a USP ad, and that's good, because a USP ad would look terribly old-fashioned. Advertising now is about "joining". It's saying: "Be a part of this scene - if you're not then you're missing out." Smirnoff is entirely about "joiners".
If you want to be an old fart about it, you could say that this ad could be for any big youth brand, but the fact is that it gives Smirnoff a great position. If you look at it against Absolut, which is very cool and severe, Smirnoff has a high-energy position. This is what counts in this sector - if you taste the brands side by side, there is no perceptible product difference.
Here is a drinks ad that has gone badly astray. There are two executions, each featuring Elliott Gould behind a bar - one in which he's pouring himself a beer, and one in which he's serving a middle-aged couple.
The whole thing has an Eastbourne quality: it feels like it's for pensioners. Elliott Gould has grown old gracefully, which I think is the worst thing you could possibly do in this life. Someone like Dennis Hopper, though, would have been great - unrepentant old Dennis, still with every bad habit he started out with. You'd buy a beer off that man. But you wouldn't want a beer with Elliott Gould. What would you say to him? "What have you done since Barbra, Elliott?" And he'd say: "Well, nothing, really, but my putting's better."
The ad's dull, he's dull and the whole thing has no energy. There is no urgency, whereas the Smirnoff ad tells you you've got to go and try some. And the ad with the couple - I don't understand why they're there.
I have no recollection of the dialogue. You're waiting for Elliott Gould to say something famous, but then you realise that the challenge is to name a famous Elliott Gould line. He has a great face, but he hasn't got the necessary iconic status. He hasn't reinvented himself, either as an unrepentant bad pensioner or a cleaned-up good guy. They're trying the "Hey, you groovy kids, Elliott Gould is cool again" trick - but Elliott Gould is stone cold. They must have paid a fortune for him, but they've done nothing with him.
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