True Happiness Comes via Pissed-Off Cavemen

By Published on .

Here at AdReview, the most exciting element of any new ad campaign is the press release from the marketer explaining the momentous creative breakthrough that has just occurred. These things are always good for a laugh.

This week, Coke did not disappoint: "We live in a world where we make choices every day and The Coke Side of Life encourages people to make those choices positive ones." Man, what a load of crap.

But not as misguided as another statement, attributed to Coke exec Katie Bayne: "Coca-Cola is happiness in a bottle."

Oh, is it now? We'd be inclined to disagree. Maybe Vicodin is happiness in a bottle, but Coke is not.

Where these ads from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., get it right, it's in whimsically observing that Coca-Cola is modest satisfaction in a bottle. When it tries to sell happiness, The Coke Side of Life beats the credibility-and charm-all to death.

Advertising isn't art. Advertising isn't art. Advertising isn't art.

Except when it is. The new Whopper Jr. spots from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, plumb actual human truth. They're about a typical family, struggling with an adolescent Junior-only this family is the Whoppers.

Dad: "You can't sell yourself for a buck, Junior."

Jr.: "Why not?"

Dad: "Because as long as you live in my house, you'll live by my rules. You got it?"

Jr.: "I thought Burger King was the Home of the Whopper."

Dad: "What is that supposed to mean?"

Jr.: "All my life you've been off being America's favorite burger, and now you want to come home and be Dad? No!"

Holden Caulfield, you've met your match. And he's dressed up like a hamburger.

We have made an error of prehistoric proportions, and we apologize.

In our Bobby Awards back in January, our annual tribute to the finest acting performances of the TV-spot year, we tragically neglected to recognize a masterpiece. The Geico insurance spot from the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., has aired a lot recently but was launched last year. It's a dinner scene with three guys-one the Geico spokesman, and the other two cavemen quite offended by a glib reference to cavemen in a previous ad.

Ben Weber and Jeff Daniel Phillips are as sulky and peeved as any Neanderthals since the Rubbles felt slighted by Fred and Wilma. Hilarious performances, especially when Phillips says he's lost his appetite. And great writing ("mango salsa") from Joe Lawson, too.

Too late, we know. But we still think you're geniuses.

So Cadbury Schweppes spent $5 million to create new TV spots for Dr Pepper, then killed them before they saw the light of day.

Good move.

We'll say this: Each spot is a clever and faithful realization of the tagline, which was to be "23 flavors mashed up into one." This played on the idea of musical mash-ups, of the sort digital technology has made easy to accomplish and very popular with the Pepsi generation. Director Kinka Usher seamlessly morphed such disparate artists as Cyndi Lauper, EMP and Kiss to a) get the attention of youthful swill swillers, and b) analogize the brand proposition.

The only problem: It was an extremely stupid brand proposition.

Mashing up 23 flavors? Now there's a not-especially-appealing concept. In fact, it is unappetizing. In fact, it is repulsive.

We can never know exactly what prompted the marketer to send Y&R to square one, but we wouldn't be surprised if someone belatedly tested the line only to watch in horror as the consumer subjects turned sick shades of green.

I'm a retcher, he's a retcher, she's a retcher. Wouldn't you like to be a retcher, too?!
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