The Davos Brands-owned Astral Tequila can't seem to shake the Dos Equis marketing playbook. Since last year, it has attempted to extend the shelf life of actor Jonathan Goldsmith playing a suave gent of unrivalled accomplishments by signing the former Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" as its new pitchman in a very similar role, surrounded by beautiful woman or performing remarkable feats with ease.
Now, Astral seems to have loosely coopted another idea from Dos Equis with a spot in which Goldsmith's character makes a slight adjustment to this year's Cinco de Mayo festivities—extending them an extra day with a new holiday, "Cuatro de Mayo."
Sound familiar? Previously, the Most Interesting Man in the World had fiddled with dates around the annual Mexican celebration for Dos Equis, "moving it" to "Dos De Mayo"—a clever move given Cinco de Mayo fell on inconvenient drinking nights (think a Sunday or a Tuesday) the years of the campaigns.
Similarly, Astral, though not changing the day, is trying to extend Cinco de Mayo. But Cuatro de Mayo (May 4) falls on a Friday this year, an already heavy bar day, so it's not clear how much Astral can gain from the move. (May 4 is also synonymous with Star Wars, so there is a little bit of competition when it comes to unofficial holidays.)
Astral's relationship with Goldsmith kicked off last June in teasers and has continued in a creative campaign that broke in January from Erich & Kallman. The latter showed Goldsmith doing astounding things while quietly sitting at his desk—defusing bombs, earning a best actor honor for a movie that isn't even out yet and playing a miniature grand piano. The work unabashedly acknowledged his previous role (while offering an excuse for not being totally original): "I told you I don't always drink beer. I prefer tequila—Astral Tequila," Goldsmith says in the ads.
"For Cinco de Mayo, an iconic day for tequila drinkers everywhere, we knew one day wasn't enough to celebrate so we decided to make it legendary by extending the holiday one day earlier," says Astral VP of Marketing Joen Choe, who declined to comment on the similarities with Dos Equis' previous work.
At the outset, Astral stated it had carefully adhered to all trademark legal requirements. At the time, Douglas Wood, senior partner at Reed Smith and general counsel to the Association of National Advertisers, saw the initial work and said he believed it wasn't likely to get Astral into any real hot water.
"While they arguably take some of the expression and trade off on some goodwill associated with the character in the context of the Dos Equis campaign, it's hard to see any damages or a taking that goes beyond fair use," he told Ad Age. "While humor alone is not a defense, it's unlikely the lighthearted references to his old character rise to an actionable cause. That said, they're on a slippery slope and should be cautious of going too far."
Heineken USA, Dos Equis' parent, declined to comment on the work.
Contributing: E.J. Schultz