The Voice of the Underdog®
By Mike Sullivan
Every so often, an advertising campaign comes along that rekindles my collegiate-era excitement for the profession. They’re campaigns rooted in an idea so simple and so brilliant that they become instant classics. For classic campaigns, winning all the awards shows is merely table stakes. They actually have to perform.
Of course, I’m talking about the Dos Equis campaign featuring the “Most Interesting Man in the World.” He’s the guy the police often question just because they find him interesting. The one who lives vicariously through himself. We hang on his every word. Even the prepositions.
It’s easily my favorite campaign in the last decade, and here’s why.
Classic Challenger Brand Makes Good
We love the underdog brands around here. And by any criteria, Dos Equis is an underdog. Its share of the market is a sliver of the domestic powerhouse brands who, by the way, are flailing away at the moment with laughably ineffective advertising campaigns of their own. Heck, Dos Equis isn’t even the largest Mexican beer. That honor goes to Corona. But, Dos Equis has managed to turn the tables on all comers with this campaign, and the expensive imported brand is actually gaining share with double-digit sales in the midst of a torturous economy while others try to beat back sales declines.
Traditional Media Alive and Well, Thank You
This campaign could not have been successful without that tired old medium my profession has been eulogizing since the Internet showed up. Television made “The Most Interesting Man in the World” possible. Certainly, sites like YouTube have further popularized the campaign and the Internet buzz has provided great lift. But the Web has merely played a support role to the real media star for this campaign. It demonstrates yet again that television is still the quickest path to popularity.
If you listen to the copy from a marketer’s perspective you can easily detect a brand strategy that firmly embraces an insight about the way its customers use beer. The Most Interesting Man’s only line of dialogue neatly connects the strategy to the customer as he says, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos Equis.” You immediately recognize that Dos Equis isn’t targeting the entire beer drinking universe like their friends at Corona and the domestic majors. They’ve done their homework and recognize that instead of being greedy they’re better off embracing the fact that their customer likes his gin and tonic, and will occasionally mix in a good beer or two. The obvious strategy is to overtly acknowledge that behavior and connect with those customers in a deeper and more relevant way to gain share. Really smart stuff.
You Can’t Digitize the Fundamentals
Lately, it seems we’re always trying to out-clever ourselves in the ad business by building a better digital customer catcher of some kind. But nothing will ever replace old-school creative brilliance. I love the writing, casting, and production in this campaign to say nothing of the concept itself. There’s nothing fancy here. It’s just plain old excellence of the sort we just don’t see often enough anymore. Like true craftsmen, the writers worked for the perfect turn of phrase, the casting director hunted for the right character and found him, and the producer worked his magic using techniques that could have been accomplished in 1970.
It all makes for advertising that genuinely earns a distinction we tend to throw around too easily these days. It really is great.
“Stay thirsty, my friends.”
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