What Makes This Commercial Great? The Bacon Bit Says It All

We Underestimated Fallon's Work for Holiday Inn Express Once Before. Not This Time

By Published on .

AdReview's worldwide cult of adherents does not stand wide-eyed in thrall due to our mesmerizing oratory or arresting Svengali stare. No, we are universally beloved and idolized based on our image of infallibility. The masses are naturally drawn to a visionary who is never wrong.

Bless their little hearts.

We are therefore humbled -- no wait, not humbled, because, really -- but at least embarrassed to acknowledge that the infallibility thing is a bit overblown. We are not utterly infallible. We have in extremely rare cases misread the potential of an advertising campaign. "Just Do It" (3 stars), "U.B.U." (4 stars) and the original Saturn work (2 1/2 stars) spring sickeningly to mind.

We like to think of these unfortunate episodes as errors purposefully stitched into a tapestry, lest a mere mortal mock God's perfection. But that would be copping to mere mortality, wouldn't it? So let's just think of AdReview screw-ups as the exceptions that prove we rule. In that case, here's another one:

Holiday Inn Express. When Fallon Worldwide came up with the campaign 10 years ago, we awarded it a paltry 1/2 star, and did so dismissively: "This campaign ... is so self-indulgent and ill-conceived, it's a challenge to catalog all its shortcomings. But let's start with the central idea: There is none. The campaign is three jokes in search of a premise and none too close to finding it."

Oh, we mounted a very forceful argument about the tortured lengths the agency went through to convey "smart choice," but 10 years later, Fallon still has the account, and the chain is doing just fine. Meanwhile, the advertising is sometimes much better than just fine. Sometimes it is superb.

For instance, a new spot introducing Holiday Inn Express' expanded breakfast bar. The pitch is: "much more than just cornflakes and watered-down orange juice." The challenge: how to get that across to the somnambulant road warrior lying on the competition's bed with a laptop and the TV remote.

The solution: Populate a commercial with guys just like him, clustered in a Holiday Inn Express breakfast bar, only have them behave as if they were in a bar bar, a cocktail lounge, scoping out the local talent.

Guy 1: "Ooh, see what I see? Yeah, we're gonna send her a plate of bacon."

Guy 2: "Bacon? That's a little too aggressive."

Guy 3 (bobbing hilariously to the nonexistent music): "Let's send her a cheese omelet."

Guy 2: "No, an English muffin. It's more proper."

Guy 4: "What about a hot cinnamon roll?"

Guy 1: "Cinnamon roll? That's something you send your sister." So they send her bacon, but she politely shoots them down because she's already got yogurt.

Guy 4: "See? You guys don't know anything about women."

It's just so great. It's just so "Swingers." Granted, it does ridicule the behavior of a good chunk of the target audience, but in that way it's also a bit flattering -- kind of "Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. You're idiots. We're all of us idiots. We are the tribe of men." Plus, duh, free food.

As for road warrior princesses, how can they resist an ad that makes the men who constantly try to pick them up look like pathetic losers? Any way you look at it, this is a spot that sends the bacon to everyone.

We are humbled. Well, maybe not humbled, but impressed. And, needless to add, we are not wrong.

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