“Confidence” makes Canadian Club best in show but Cadillac a hot rod for MILFs.
September 19, 2008
What is it about Canadian Club’s print campaign that makes it best in show advertising? The art direction and copy are first rate. I still can’t tell if those photos were made, found or what. Their reckless boisterousness is irresistible. The art perfectly augments a declarative tagline: “Damn right your dad drank it.”
But stellar art direction and copy are prices for entry in the finalist category. What factor(s) took CC’s campaign to the next level? Why is it so “damn” good?
For obvious reasons, it’s a question worth looking at. Figure out what’s magic about top-flight work and maybe you can create some yourself. My friend and current CEO of Publicis and Hal Riney in San Francisco, Jamie King answered the question in one word: Confidence.
The “Damn Right” campaign has it in spades. And not just because of randy pictures and tough language. Again, price of entry. (And, sometimes, cost of exit). The genuine confidence comes from a brand that looked at itself honestly, found its weakest link, and fixed it.
Jamie’s agency pitched CC, losing to Energy BBDO and the “Damn Right” campaign. During the pitch, his team spoke to numerous drinkers. The comment they kept hearing about Canadian Club was that it was something their Dads drank a long time ago. In other words, CC was old-fashioned and not for them.
Instead of reacting to this learning by forcing a modernization strategy, CC and Energy BBDO turned the perceived negative into an actual positive. “Damn right your father drank it.” He also “had” a lot of women before your mother. In fact he “had groupies” and was absolutely “not a metrosexual.” Owning up to who you are takes true confidence. Positioning CC as “not your father’s Canadian Club” would have been falsely confident and a mistake.
False confidence drives a lot of advertising. I still cringe every time Kate Walsh asks, on behalf of the new Cadillac CTS: “When you turn your car on does it return the favor?” It’s a nifty line, and she’s hot, and I’m sure the car holds its own in the luxury market… So why, then, is the commercial so completely annoying?
While the CTS is not your father’s Caddy that doesn’t mean it has to be a hot rod for MILFs. The campaign is “fronting” for Cadillac.
I don’t doubt certain people like these vehicles and these ads. But mark my words this campaign will not win any creative prizes. And it isn’t because of the writing or art direction, which is fiery and bold; it’s because of tone and manner. Ushering in these bodacious machines, it feels like Mussolini showing off his weapons to Hitler. False confidence.
Canadian Club owns it’s past and tells the truth about it. The confidence is genuine and the ads are relevant, engaging and, best of all, fun.
Confidence is key criteria for many advertisers, especially those appealing to young men. Best make sure and get it right, damn it!