Friday, May 18, 2018

This is a beer ad

The video above is a commercial for the New Zealand beer brand Speight’s. Called “The Dance”, the ad is a major departure for the brand, and NZ beer advertising in general. It’s a remarkably real ad, portraying both believable life situations and the meaning of mateship, and returning to a classic slogan and infusing it with new vitality. It’s a very good ad.

The ad was created by DDB NZ and was directed by Steve Ayson (for The Sweet Shop). Intended for use online, making it ripe for sharing, it’s also been shown on NZ television late in the evening (alcohol cannot be advertised on NZ television until late in the evening, after young children are in bed). I first saw the ad on TV and was caught from the very first image: “What’s this about?!” I thought to myself. The answer doesn’t come until the end of the ad.

"Masculinity is evolving, even in Heartland New Zealand," Craig Baldie, the national marketing director at the company that owns Speight’s told the NZ Herald. The company studied New Zealand cultural mores to see if the brand was still relevant. "That study showed us it was, but it also told us that the message had to be served up in a different way than it was 20 years ago."

In the 1990s, the brand featured ads with a distinctly male viewpoint, one that was also often not entirely embracing of women, either. That’s how this ad is so different: The whole point of the ad is that the subject doesn’t want to disappoint his woman. A Speight’s ad would never have had that as a theme two decades ago.

Which makes the revival of their slogan, “Good On Ya Mate”, all the more interesting. In the 1990s, it was men alone, friends looking out for friends. Now it still means friends looking out for friends, but in a thoroughly modern context. In the context of the new ad, it feels fresh.

No ordinary ad can change the world, and usually they merely reflect the world around us at any moment. We expect that. But when an ad steps out of its own comfort zone, and when doing that reminds us how much has changed, it’s a pretty remarkable thing.

To be completely honest, I’ve never been a Speight’s drinker, in part because the old ads never attracted me. This new ad direction may very well entice me for those (very) rare times I have a beer. The odds are certainly better.

Regardless, I’m sure of one thing: I really like this ad.

See Also:
“Feeling the rhythm: how Speight's has moved from blokey heroes to celebrate modern mateship”StopPress
“Speight's breaks with beer ad traditions in new campaign: The Dance”The Drum

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