McGarrybowen and Miracle Whip have concocted an epic-sized new campaign for the other white glop. It’s something all right. But let me back up for a sec…
Miracle Whip was one of mcgarrybowen’s early signature wins on their road to world domination. Much to the chagrin of several Chicago agencies, Kraft became mcgarrybowen’s new best friend. Miracle Whip was but one of several Kraft brands delivered to its doorstep.
Their first "Don't Be Mayo" campaign had its detractors but it was a quantum leap for Kraft’s oh-so American sandwich spread, positioning the brand as a hip alternative to Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. While that campaign was all about young hipsters getting their Whip on, this new work is even more ambitious. It takes us to olden times, playing off Miracle Whip’s controversial appearance in a provincial village. Miracle Whip is portrayed as a brazen, sinful treat, the well-known red label a scarlet letter. The townspeople want to burn the witches who enjoy it, approaching a rogue household with torches and vitriol.
Read that synopsis again. It’s so unlike the old Kraft or American package goods advertising in general. For that reason alone one can and should admire this spectacle.
Obviously, it’s a joke. And a big one at that. These commercials are large, costly productions, with a massive cast decked out in period wardrobe as well as an entire make-believe town for its location. In other words: big film. My understanding is the campaign debuted on the Academy Awards. I’m not surprised.
Say what you will about the agency and its client but they aren’t backing down.
Advertising Agency: mcgarrybown, Chicago, USA
Chief Creative Officer: Ned Crowley
Group Creative Directors: Dave Reger, Michael Straznikas
Copywriter: Tyler Campbell
Art Director: Brant Herzer
Production Company: Park Pictures
Owner/Executive Producer: Jackie Kelman Bisbee
Director: Joachim Back
December 7, 2011
When Google Maps first came out I recall being awed by it. And a little frightened. After all, I could see your house and you could see mine. It felt like too much information for an address search. And maybe it is. Clearly, Google Maps serves a bigger purpose than getting directions. It lets us see every corner of the world. Literally. And while that undoubtedly aids spies and other nefarious characters, one can’t argue with how damn cool it is. Who needs surveillance when my grandmother can find a corner store in Kandahar?
Google Maps is a game-changer, and one I doubt needs to be advertised. But it appears that it is being advertised, in a print campaign from Europe. I do not know the work’s pedigree, or whether it’s even a real ad campaign, but like the product being advertised, it’s pretty sweet. “Know before you go,” reads the copy alongside a photograph of an ideal location sullied by the presence of unsavory neighbors. No question this highlights a major benefit of Google Maps. Seeing places just as they are.
By far the best execution of the lot is the Parisian hotel, bookmarked by two unsavory sex shops. Funny and very real. It’s absolutely believable: This could happen to you!
The other two ads (below) are fun but pale in comparison. First of all, they don’t dramatize the gritty realism of Google Maps. The photographs feel too lavish and, well, phony. With the sex shop ad one doesn’t need the added body copy. The picture pays off the product and the gag beautifully. The others do require the copy, otherwise we’re not sure what we are looking at: hotel, haunted house, or what? I’m not sure why the creative team felt compelled to push reality so far when reality itself turns the trick. I can almost hear my old boss telling me to go back and make the other ads as good at the first!
Early returns on the new Jet Blue campaign from Mullen, featuring the second coming of pseudo-famous fast talker, John Moschitta, have been mixed. Yes, the spots are entirely derivative of director, Joe Sedelmaier’s famous campaign for Federal Express. But so what? Ain’t anything new since the Romans. It’s obvious Mullen was riffing on the old Fed Ex campaign. In addition to bringing back the speed-talking Moschitta (still good at his stupid human trick by the way), the films were made in exactly the same way as Joe’s work: muted colors, locked down camera, comic casting, etc. And guess what? The technique still works. Funny then. Funny now.
As discussed before on this blog, The negative connotations associated with copycat creative is less controversial than it used to be, say back when Sedelmaier was making films. Back then it was called plagiarism. Now we just call it ‘building on’ or ‘mashing.’ Besides, the argument follows, most people under 40 don’t have a recollection of the fast talking Fed Ex guy, so it’s new to them. What’s important is what consumers think of the campaign, not the opinions of jaded advertising critics. That’s the defense, whether we agree with it or not.
It is fair to criticize, however, the strategy behind the new campaign. Is “Mr. Non-Stop” a relevant shill for Jet Blue? Do funny spots about going to a bunch of places, etc, differentiate Jet Blue from Southwest, ATA or any number of other low-cost carriers? For a 21st century airline like Jet Blue, it does beg the question: why such an old-fashioned approach?
My guess is Jet Blue’s modern period is over; its credibility with early adapters collapsing when a slew of delays and service issues beset the airline a short time ago. Rather than attempting to woo back this crowd with design and technology promises, the client and agency go to market with humorous vignettes from a bygone era.
Whether ‘cheap, fast & easy’ is or isn’t a good strategy for them at least it’s not another haughty anthem vainly trying to emulate the brilliant United Airlines work from the 80’s and 90’s. If you’re going to be derivative don’t be boring. Thankfully, these spots are anything but.
This from the blog, These Are Their Stories:
Dean Winters, who appeared on Law & Order SVU as Detective Brian Cassidy during the first half of the first season, is now the star of some new offbeat commercials for Allstate. He is portraying a character called “Mayhem” who represents all the different kinds of damage that can affect drivers.
Last year, in this blog I praised Allstate’s long-running ad campaign featuring actor, Dennis Haybert. His patriarchal and steadying demeanor was just right for the huge insurance agency, particularly during times of economic turmoil.
While the world is far from economically recovered, Allstate and its agency, Leo Burnett created a new and very different ad campaign. First impression: It’s fantastic. From the exquisitely biting acting chops of its protagonist to the bodacious music track, these deft executions are handled with gritty style and panache. Trust me folks, this is not your father’s Allstate. Mayhem is personified by Winters as a mischievous devil, quite willing to do harm. He is a “deer in your headlights.” A teen-aged driver. A fallen tree in a windstorm. When the character wreaks havoc on your car, home or person he laughs gleefully, sinfully. Like I said, not your father’s Allstate. Wisely, Haybert’s steadying voice-over is retained at the end, taking the edge off the campaign.
Unlike previous work, the campaign no longer speaks prosaically about safety, security and protection. Instead “Mayhem” is taking on Geico and other discount insurers. If you worry about saving “up to 15% on auto insurance” you’re likely not covered for certain kinds of mayhem. It’s a radical departure for the brand. But instead of fighting value with value (thank God), Allstate and Leo Burnett created this.
In some respects, “Mayhem” is also the debut creative of Leo Burnett’s new Chief Creative Officer, Susan Credle. As many of you know, after a lengthy search, Leo Burnett plucked Credle from BBDO in New York. There she’d created the mischievous M & M’s campaign for Mars, among many others.
In Cannes, I spoke with Credle at length about Allstate’s new campaign. At the time I had not seen a single piece of communication. But Susan was very excited about it. Having seen the spots I can see why.