Garfield's Ad Review: New Snapple ads hold genius, and a lesson for Kevin Costner

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Yo, Kevin Costner. Yes, you, the living embodiment of what happens when mediocre actors get too much power. You Mr. "Water World," Mr. "Postman," Mr. Everything You Touch Turns to Box Office Dust. You want to know how to send a "Message in a Bottle?" Skip the preening and the goo.

Just check out the new Snapple commercials.

Everything about these spots from Deutsch, New York, is delightful, starting with the primitive production. Shot on video and using the crudest of puppetry to animate the bottles, the spots jump from the TV in approximately the way, 25 years ago, Mr. Bill jumped from the TV. Furthermore, they are hilarious.

It's hard to explain why they're hilarious. For instance, why is it so funny to see a sort of "Porky's" scene of two teenage-boy glass bottles peeping into the girls-glass-bottle shower? The original isn't funny, but this is. Maybe it's the shower steam, maybe it's the shampoo lather in the little wigs that the girl bottles have glued to their lids, maybe it's the backpack and backwards cap on one of the boys. Who can say? It's just a scream-especially when the glass-bottle gym teacher catches the boys in the act. One books. The other is soooo busted.

Likewise the "House Party" spot, when Mom and Dad glass bottle return home unexpectedly, surprising their trembling glass-bottle daughter, who is caught making out with a boy bottle amid the bacchanal. The Dad bottle has a little necktie. The daughter has blond pigtails and the trees outside have been tiny, tiny toilet-papered.

The details are funny throughout. In the spot featuring competitive break dancing between two groups of urban bottles, everyone is outfitted with outsize ghetto jewelry-i.e, miniature outsize ghetto jewelry. And in the spot mimicking an 'N Sync-like boy band, the stage-show pyrotechnics and extreme hairdos are just dead on. Oh, and you can hear the bottles clinking against one another.

Maybe that's it. On the one hand, the creators go to enormous effort to get little costuming and set-design touches just right. And, on the other, they utterly flaunt the two-bit production values. (In a minor concession to technology, the human hands manipulating the bottles were digitally removed.) It's a peculiar combination of slick and rough-hewn, followed by the ingenious signature of a Snapple cap's center bubble snapping out as its vacuum seal is broken.


Now, you may well ask what all this ingenuity has to do with selling expensive, non-carbonated teas and fruit drinks. Well, it does.

First of all, Snapple has been doing oddball ads for its entire history. The advertising, like Nike's, is so integral to the brand that it is, in effect, itself a product attribute. Certainly the audience expects no less. Secondly, all of the vignettes are about familiar lifestyle moments-or, at least, archetypes-that will resonate with the target consumer. Teenagers drink a lot of this swill, and teenagers are this campaign's prime target.

Finally, talk about product as hero.

Product as hero. Product as villain. Product as supporting actor. Product as extra. Not since the last Bud Bowl have so many beverage containers played so many roles. And not since, oh, everything Kevin Costner's ever done, has the star/product so unabashedly been an advertisement for himself.

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