Modern beer ads just don’t make me thirsty
I like beer. Beer is easily one of my favourite fizzy alcoholic beverages. Anytime is a good time for beer, but an especially good time for beer is anytime I’m thirsty.
I get thirsty when I play or watch sport, I get thirsty when I’m hot and I get thirsty when I eat delicious salty bar snacks like beef jerky and BBQ-flavoured corn nuts. God I love jerky and corn nuts. But best of all, I like beer.
Taking all of this into account, I am a ridiculously easy sell. All advertisers have to do to make me hit the bottle-o for a six pack of their product is make me thirsty. Simple. So why do so many of them fail?
Beer is now marketed like Melbourne. Just as the Victorian capital is sold with balls of string and poncy people flouncing about, beer ads have nothing to do with the reasons people actually want to drink beer.
Beer ads are too artistic. They’re cool to watch, and often really clever, but they don’t make me want to drink beer.
Case in point. Late last year, Danish brewer Carlsberg put together a clever ad where several unsuspecting moviegoers found themselves in a cinema full of scary biker dudes. Those who dared to sit down without scurrying off were rewarded with a rousing cheer and a bottle of the sponsor’s finest.
All of which was terribly clever, but it didn’t make me thirsty. In fact, it made wonder whether I could sit there drinking Carlsberg and watching a movie for two hours without needing to pee. And that made me not want to drink Carlsberg.
Closer to home, beer ads have gone plain weird. In 2003, the people at Lion Nathan decided that a wandering tongue would be a terrific way to portray the sheer irresistibility of Toohey’s Dry.
This ad soon became the most complained-about ever in Australian advertising history, and for good reason. The widespread public response could be best summarised as: “eeeeeeew”.
More recently, advertisers decided that a terrific way to justify their exorbitant salaries would be to make ads which cost more than their designer ripped jeans and weekly recreational drug habit put together. Thus began the era of the “big beer ad”.
The most famous big beer ad was the Carlton ad. An advertising guy at the time said: “Blokes loved the Big Ad, they like simple ads, and don’t like them to be too complicated”.
The operatic ad, featuring thousands of people running through fields in a vast human mosaic shaped like a beer drinker, ended with the ironic admission that “this ad had better sell some bloody beer”.
But did it? See, here’s the thing. Irony doesn’t sell beer. Indeed, most people who drink beer don’t know what irony is. Not after the third stubbie anyway.
One thing beer drinkers do understand is humour, especially their own, when they’ve had a few. So when beer advertisers go for the funny bone, they’re in the right neighbourhood.
But as clever as Carlton’s Slow Motion ad was, you just don’t want to watch a guy spitting food scraps in his mate’s face. Or maybe you do, but it sure doesn’t make you thirsty. It’s kind of like the Toohey’s Dry tongue all over again.
Still, there’s gross and then there’s this.
Honestly, I am more likely to buy a product from the Pond’s Institute than buy Bud Lite.
What I want to know is, what was wrong with old school beer ads? I know everything was better in the old days, but beer ads really were better. Beer ads had manly men doing manly things. They made you want to be like those men, and above all, they made you thirsty.
The old “you can get it…” VB ads were great.
So were Queensland’s “I can feel a XXXX comin’ on” ads. If they didn’t make you want to get drunk on a beach, nothing did.
But at the risk of going all NSW-centric, the greatest beer ads ever were the Tooheys ads of the ’70s, featuring a range of sports stars and celebrating with a can of the sponsor’s product. I was about five at the time, but they still made me want to drink Toohey’s beer.
They still do. Tooheys New is still my beer of choice, despite the fact it tastes somewhere between horse wee and Bulmers pear cider. There’s a lesson in that for beer ad makers, don’t you think?
Late update. Don’t say we never listen! Here, by popular demand, is the Tooheys Whitney ad. Enjoy!
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