Martha Stewart & Pine Brothers disrupt the Golden Globes and blow up Twitter!
January 14, 2014
I love this story.
During the star-studded hype fest known as the Golden Globes there appeared this funky little commercial for Pine Brother’s “softish” cough drops, featuring none other than Martha Stewart.
“Hi, I’m Martha.” She begins. “If you know me, you know I don’t do many ads…”
But she does this one. MS walks into a conservative parlor in the Waldorf Towers of Beverly Hills (!), sits down on a comfy chair and, well, pitches Pine Brothers. “Nothing on the market soothes your throat as effectively and deliciously,” she says looking directly into the camera.
Every word of that sentence is from another time. Frankly, the whole spot is. There are no pop culture references. No irony. No special effects. No surprise ending. Hell, even the product shot –a mortis still life- is pure old-timey advertising. It’s like they dropped this 90’s icon into a 50’s commercial for an 19th century product! That it appeared on a TV spectacle vaingloriously trying to be contemporary makes the spot even more memorable.
According to AdAge, Twitter blew up. Much of it was critical (of course) but so what? Calling the spot lame is beside the point. And erroneous. A global audience was conversing about Pine Brothers, whereas 30 seconds prior no on earth was. If that’s not a win what is? By being so conservative the spot came off as damn near rogue, a zig amid a zillion zags.
Apparently the co-owner of Pine Brother’s cough drops, Rider McDowell, hired the matronly icon on the fly, when the original talent “flaked.” You can read the rest of the story here. It’s a Mad Men-era doozy.
In a way, the whole thing reminds me of that infamous campaign for Mentos “The Freshmaker!”
For whatever reason, these commercials were produced in another country (another galaxy!) but were intended to look thoroughly American. A bizarre fail but the effect was surreal. Long story short the campaign became a smash hit precisely because of its hopelessly awkward and hokey production.
Being unwaveringly traditional and sincere, in a time and place so completely the opposite, the Pine Brother’s commercial accomplishes what few ads these days do: it got noticed. With the right follow through, Pine Bros could become the next Mentos or Altoids –an old-fashioned brand on the tip of everyone’s tongue.