I teach history of advertising. One of the things we do is look for good and bad examples of various advertising concepts throughout history.
I can’t find a clip of a recent ad for the Heineken Draught Keg, but it goes into my book as an example of “badvertising.”
If you haven’t seen the ad, it’s because you haven’t been watching cable TV for the last two weeks. At all. I think I’ve seen the ad twice a day at least. And I don’t watch that much tube.
Short version: A green-skinned, robotic, hot-pants-wearing cutie with a page-boy haircut does a kind of robot dance onto the screen. She does a couple mechanical “vogue” poses, then opens up her thorax, exposing some advanced, cybernetic innards that contain a Heineken Draught Keg. Video below:
Yep. Green, robot stripper girl with a mini-keg fridge where her heart, lungs, etc. would be. All to the beat of some indecipherable techno-tronics. Smiling the whole time as she opens herself up for our beer-drinking pleasure.
It is, frankly, horrifying. And horrifyingly bad.
I don’t mind sexy ads. Or funky ads. And even if I don’t like an ad, that doesn’t mean I’ll label it badvertising without a reason. But this one… yeegadz. List of things that are wrong with this:
- High-tech and beer don’t go together. Beer is primal. Beer is low-tech. Beer is the reason we invented pottery, not the reason we go into space, create better garage-door openers, and splice genes.
- Beer goes from the outside of us to the inside. Seeing a very lifelike creature take beer from her inside, and bring it to the outside has two possible subconscious roots: urinating or vomiting. I do not want beer that has already been inside something/one else.
- Woman as objectified sex object is fine. Well, not fine… but it ain’t going away. A beautiful woman bringing you a beer is as much a staple of American advertising culture as “shiny cars go vroom.” But woman as beer container? Or fridge? Keg-support-system with great gams? It pushes the limits of even my caveman appreciation for reducing a person to an object.
- Green skin bad. Green skin sick skin. Maybe dead skin. Green skin goblin skin.
- Robot dancing bad. Robot dancing sick dancing. Maybe dead dancing. Robot dancing late 80′s dancing.
- Robots can’t get drunk.
- Sexy, fit fembots would kick your ass if you got drunk and tried to play them.
Heineken’s brand is (or has been) very nicely handled in their previous ads where people do funny and/or slightly tawdry things to keep ahold of their Heinies. None of that here. No link to the old ads at all. Which isn’t always bad. But in this case, well… The old ads conveyed a brand that was about a higher-quality beer; something to be relished and coveted. If I could pick one word that they seemed to be aiming at, it would be “premium.” The ads were also quite funny.
The new ad isn’t funny. I don’t think it’s meant to be, either. So no points off for bad humor execution, just for letting go something that was working for something that doesn’t. The new ad doesn’t convey a sense of quality… just… gimmickry. Which I had never associated with Heineken. Until now.