The reason we ask, it's hilarious. Also the acting is magnificent. And so is the writing-if you can call it that. Because the spot, by BBDO Worldwide, New York, was mainly improvised by an ad hoc company of improvisational comedians.
Explanation to follow. First, here's the dialogue, as two guys reach into a watery ice tub for the last bottle of Sierra Mist. So they contrive a solution to see who gets to enjoy its sugary lemon-lime refreshment.
Guy 1: "I'm sorry, go ahead."
Guy 2: "Nah. You can have it."
Guy 1: "Rock paper scissors?"
[Note to foreigners: This is a kids' choose-up game. Rock breaks scissors. Scissors cuts paper. Paper covers rock.]
Guy 2: "All right."
Guy 1: "All right."
Guys 1 and 2: "One, two three..."
Then they show their hands. Guy 1 shows scissors and Guy 2 shows paper, meaning he should lose the match. But he grabs the Sierra Mist from the tub and starts to drink it.
Guy 1: "Whoaaaa!"
Guy 2: "Water makes the scissors rusty and then they crumble and then they break and then the paper scoops it up." Then a long pause as Guy 1 just tries to absorb the explanation.
Guy 1: "What?!"
Then comes very bouncy woodwind music reminiscent of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" theme-which is not surprising since the whole campaign seems to be inspired by the Larry David comedy, itself a series of improvisations from David's basic storylines. Like the Burger King spots ripped directly off of BBC America's "The Office," this campaign's Big Idea is just something someone at BBDO saw on TV and tried to replicate.
That, of course, isn't a Big Idea at all, nor even necessarily an advertising idea. These spots don't even tell you what Sierra Mist is, and it would be easy to dismiss them as the usual gratuitous comedy exercise if there weren't other plans afoot. The brand intends to deploy the improv troupe beyond 30-second spots in ways yet undetermined, or at least unannounced. It's entirely possible they will eventually become known as those Sierra Mist People, which, if they are entertaining, would amount to quite a coup.
If they aren't funny, it would be less of a coup. If they turn out to be a persistent annoyance, it will be a Branded Entertainment Integrated Marketing fiasco. For instance, the campaign's second spot-about "de-gifting" an unopened bottle of soda from a party at the end of the evening-is amusing in a Larry Davidish way, but very clunky, like many an improv sketch that runs out of joke before it runs out of time and painfully repeats itself.
On the other hand, to reiterate, the "Rock Paper Scissors" thing is very, very funny. And, strangely enough, we're curious to see more.
Review 3 stars
Ad: Sierra Mist
Location: New York