Even the Duke can't rescue this Coors ad

By Published on .

ADVERTISER: Coors Brewing Co.
AGENCY: Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago
RATING: 1-1/2 stars

Does this mean McLean Stevenson gets another sitcom?

Death, it seems, isn't the resume-ender it once was. First Cagney, Bogie and most every dead star but Fatty Arbuckle were resurrected for Coke. Then Marilyn was revived for Chanel No. 5. And now John Wayne has been exhumed by Coors Brewing Co. to be advertising's latest spokescorpse.

Bad career move.

"Attention!" barks R. Lee Ermey, reprising his drill-instructor role from "Full Metal Jacket," to a company of Army recruits in the spot from Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago. "During a surprise inspection of your barracks this afternoon, I found this!"

Hoisting a six-pack of Coors Light, he bellows, "I want the soldier who belongs to this beer to step forward. NOW! Whatsa matter? Do you miss your precious Rocky Mountains? Dipping your tootsies into an ice cold Rocky Mountain stream, fraternizing with some snow bunny?"

Here a soldier lets his mind wander to a Rocky Mountain fantasy, complete with dream babes, then back to reality.

"Do you . . . KOWALSKI!? I wanna know whose beer this is, RIGHT NOW!"

But wait, what is that familiar voice? Why, it's John Wayne! Plucked from his role as a two-star general in "Cast a Giant Shadow," he is digitally composited into the scene.

"It's my beer, sergeant."
"You put this beer here?" the chastened d.i. asks.
"I certainly did and I checked on them," the Duke replies.
"I wasn't gonna take it, sir."
"I'll bet."
"No, really, look, it's still cold."
"You're right. Now what did you do with my pretzels?"
"Well," the sergeant hollers, "don't just stand there. Find the general's pretzels!"

And--ha, ha, ha--his men scramble in all directions.

Maybe while they're looking, they can also find, beyond the gratuitous use of technology and deceased mythic figures, a point to this commercial.

This is the latest confounding production from director Joe Pytka, who still does some engaging, innovative work, (Young & Rubicam's Xerox campaign, for example) but whose spots too often lately look like they've been built on an assembly line.

No, make that a moving sidewalk--i.e., mechanical, expensive and pedestrian.

For starters, the compositing job has some disconcerting lighting matches and ungainly stand-in shots. So the effect is blunted and, therefore, insufficient to wow Forrest Gump-, Chanel-and Coke-jaded viewers.

Then there is awkward dialogue and silly, contrived premise. What is a general's six-pack doing in the recruits' barracks? And why do those extras so little resemble young grunts? The short, balding guy with the round metal-rimmed glasses looks more like a 35-year-old Austrian art director than a 19-year-old U.S. infantryman. "Cast a Giant Shadow"? It appears that they cast a giant chorus line.

And, as long as we're asking, why is John Wayne--who has been dead for 17 years--deemed an icon for the Xer beer-drinking generation? We're talking about people who weren't alive when John Kennedy was shot, who were in diapers when John Lennon was shot.

How much could they possibly care about the guy who was there when Liberty Valence was shot?

Copyright June 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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