Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: God forbid we should associate beer with enjoyment

Beer advertising is getting ever more restrictive. Anything that smacks of fun is out. As the Advertising Standards Authority has it adverts must not:
  • encourage excessive drinking
  • imply that alcohol has contributed to sexual or social success
  • show alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly
If only they could remove that annoying imagination, humour and creativity used to sell the stuff I reckon they'd be satisfied. In fact the Scottish parliament is already considering a total ban on alcohol advertising just to be on the safe side.

The thing is, while it might not always be true to suggest that drink does make you funnier, sexier and more fun to be around the joyless, puritanical, nannying mindset which seeks to remove any associations of fun from the advertising of alcohol definitely has the opposite effect.

Advertisers are smart to this already, of course; it's what they're paid for after all. In any case, what advertisers do is break all these rules on the internet with the additional bonus of being seen to be 'edgy' or 'rebellious' or whatever insidious bollocks viral marketing types spout these days.

This very naughty Guinness 'advert' is a good example of what might be done – were it not a fake which Guinness's parent company has specifically disavowed, demanding that it be yanked from the internet at once because it certainly doesn't want people talking about it. And it has done so very publicly just so there could be doubt about this. It would never do to bring this sort of thing to mind next time you are wiping the creamy top from a Guinness off your lips, after all.

Another fun defiance is this splendid Dos Equis series featuring the drinking habits of the 'most interesting man in the world' (I'm obliged to Conor for tipping me off about this one). "The police often question him. Just because they find him interesting."There's something undeniably Hemmingway-esque about the man. Anyway, since the associations of fun, excitement, vitality and drink making you even more interesting are frowned upon these days, it's reason enough to enjoy them. Add to that wit and style – "If I can count the coins in your pocket, you better use them to call a tailor" – and I'd say it's a pretty good advert for staying thirsty.

As for the beer, well it makes the character more intriguing, not necessarily more interesting, that he only likes a good, but not great Mexican brew. I'd prefer Guinness, myself.

But then drinks advertising has always been a fun thing in and off itself. Many of us, I'm sure will remember catchy and amusing ads from the late 80s/early 90s - mostly for cheap mass-produced swill you'd no more want to drink that you would spend the rest of your life listening to the Scottish parliament's health committee in session.

A good example is Tennent's lager. Leaving aside its infamous turbo tramp juice, the regular stuff appeals to a rather Buckfast-ish* demographic. And yet the advertising has been sublime. News of the proposed Scottish advertising ban prompted a fond reminiscence from the Spectator's Fraser Nelson. He rightly picks this pastiche of Whisky Galore as its masterpiece (not least for skewering the puritan mindset so perfectly), though this oneappealing as it does to workshy misanthropes with a sentimental streak who start dreaming of their first pint at eight in the morning might be a little too close to the truth to really work as advertising.

No matter. Anything which winds up the puritans, proves that ad men's lives are entirely futile and makes you smile has to be a good thing. I raise a glass of wine to these great beer ads.

* Buckfast don't do adverts. If they did, it would probably be nothing like this. It's called Lurgan Champagne for a reason, you know.



Blogger bill said...

NB: This was posted by dominic who inadvertently left it in the thread below so I've taken the liberty of moving it here.

I do hope that the Glasgow Tourist Board pick up on that "Hobo vs Buckfast" video there - they could even do live recreations of it as part of a special feature at the People's Palace

12:44 am  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I do love advertising. And booze advertising is some of the finest. Sadly, the days of endless budget and clients willing to take a punt have dwindled and it's all become rather safe and obsessed with ROI. Sigh. But virals allow a bit more excitement. Oh, and that Guinness viral, yes, bit like the Threshers discount voucher before xmas.


8:23 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Like the Threshers voucher? How so are they exchangeable for other, erm, services (in the fashion of Cynthia Payne and the luncheon vouchers).

9:34 pm  

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