Super Bowl Ad Anti-Marketing
In a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial leaked ahead of Sunday’s game, soft lighting shines on a white tablecloth as, behind it, actress Helen Mirren sits regally on a bench seat that's oddly reminiscent of the ones used by Dos Equis spokesman “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”
Served her beer and finished with her audience greeting, she launches into a lecture: “If you drive drunk you, simply put, are a short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution, a Darwin Award-deserving, selfish mountain of fresh manure. If your brain was [sic] donated to science, science would return it. So stop it.”
This version of the video replaces "selfish mountain of fresh manure" with "selfish coward."
As counterintuitive as it seems, these 24 seconds of the 60-second Budweiser commercial actually seem to be against beer consumption. (While Mirren is served a beer, she doesn't drink it and she doesn’t expressly say to drink responsibly, as other public service announcements do.)
Here’s what marketers may be able to learn from this tactic:
- Anti-Marketing Is Smart. Except When It Isn’t. Budweiser seems to assume consumers are smart and know that Mirren isn’t telling them not to buy Budweiser; she’s actually encouraging them to drink it, but not drive like a “selfish mountain of fresh manure.” Consumers following the ad’s hashtag, #GiveADamn, seem to agree with the PSA.
I WILL NOT DRIVE DRUNK!#GiveADamn
— danny (@drb604) February 4, 2016
However, anti-marketing can go wrong, as GoDaddy learned before the 2015 Super Bowl. The company had planned to run a commercial mocking Budweiser’s lost puppy series with an ad showing Buddy returning home only to be sold online.
Last year, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving wrote a blog post titled “We’re Listening, Message Received.” In it, he said: “We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl. You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh.”
- Going for the Laugh Can Backfire. As GoDaddy learned, “funny” is relative. PSAs are also subject to taxpayer scrutiny. “We all need the D. Even me!” and “How do you do the D?” didn’t bring to mind vitamin D for most readers of Yukon Health and Social Services in Canada’s ad. It especially irked David Goold, who said so on the YHSS Facebook page: “All you had to do was show one poster, any one of your posters to a teenager, just one teenager, or anyone under 35 years old, and they’d have told you immediately what you were doing wrong.”
- Anti-Marketing Can Be Anti-Consumer. Very few people seem to like Martin Shkreli at this point, so even the mainstream press is piling on the former CEO of pharmaceutical company Turing with headlines like this one from the Huffington Post: “The 9 Most Punchable Martin Shkreli Faces (Just From Today).”
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) February 4, 2016
Before these smirks, Shkreli had marketed “a life-saving drug” at a 5,000 percent markup. And, called to testify Thursday before Congress, he smirked while refusing to answer questions about drug prices.
Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016
- Nonconformists Can Succeed. “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” a book by Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, talks about how Warby Parker, Google, Steve Jobs and more defied norms and won.
What do marketers think of this?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Sexism? Eh. But Sell a Puppy Online and It’s #NoDaddy