Most Interesting Men in the World Appear in VB Spot

Finally, Droga5's Beer Ad Captures the Varied Glory of Manhood

By Published on .

If you pay attention to linguist Deborah Tannen, or 23.4% of your e-mail forwards, or every comedian ever, you certainly know that all men are alike. We don't volunteer our thoughts (much less our feelings) to our significant others. We don't fill the gas tank till the needle is well below the E. We fly to Argentina on Father's Day so that our souls, or whatever, can mate.

We aren't born, raised and molded distinctively by an inscrutable combination of nature and nurture. We are die cut and stamped, tumbling off the conveyor into the Man Hopper, programmed to drink beer, watch football, barbecue meat and fall asleep moments after forgetting she has needs, too.

We are all, in short, Adam Carrola.

But hold on just one second. Adam Carrola's a dick.

Yet, lots and lots of beer advertising is content to tar all of us with the same brush, to reduce us to cartoon characters of masculinity. This includes a decade of Bud Light battle-of-the-sexes gags, Miller Lite's ill-fated "Man Laws" and Heineken's recent green-tinted Bud Light ad about guys squealing over a huge, built-in brewski fridge.

Sure, the best of these little comedies seize on a kernel of human truth, but who wants to be dismissed as a pathetic caricature, enslaved by instinct and devoid of volition? Isn't advertising supposed to flatter our sense of individuality? If we've learned anything from Marlboro and Dr Pepper and VW -- not to mention Ralph Waldo Emerson -- it's that nobody ever went broke mass-marketing goods as badges of iconoclasm. It's high time for a brewer to venerate our bold and rugged inner pioneers!

Wait. Recall "It's high time for a brewer to venerate our bold and rugged inner pioneers!"

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Stroh's and a whole mess of others did exactly that in the '80s, and it was embarrassing. That advertising was no less reductive, portraying the male ideal chucking it all for a life of heroic solitude in the woods or at sea. But it didn't come off as heroic so much as escapist: a bunch of rich, bearded, maladjusted clods running off to where they didn't have to deal with, you know, life.

So a thousand bravos to Droga5 and its spot for Foster's Victoria Bitter, an Australian beer ad that fills every bill:

  1. Recognizing that while we X-and-Y-chromosome-havers share many a trait, we are divided into a host of sub-categories. Which, as a lover of sports, drinking, poker and show tunes, I can personally corroborate.
  2. Singling out each of those subcategories for its own, distinctive dose of ridicule.
  3. Only to find the one, true unifying characteristic, spanning the gap between them: VB, "The Drinking Beer."
The cohorts are imagined in a vast parade, carrying banners to denote their subset, all looking most hilariously their parts: "Blokes built like a brick house" and "The guys who peaked in high school." Walking-wounded "Guys who should have read the instructions" and rustic "Men who have had their arm in a cow." The biggest laugh: "Blokes punching above their weight." Those unprepossessing-looking gents walk the parade route, hilariously, each with a gorgeous bombshell on his wimpy arm.

What makes it work as comedy is the performance of the announcer, who is spot-on in his slightly-too-loudness, his slightly-too-excitedness tempered by all-this-is-normal matter-of-fact-ness in describing, for instance, "men who'd rather eat an off prawn than submit to a quiche."

But what makes it work as advertising is the recognition that you can be simultaneously distinctive and part of a larger whole, an individual bloke and a part of something larger. An ordinary beer-swilling dick, and a very special dick unto yourself.

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