Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late in the Game but here Nevertheless.

Introduction: I decided it was time to take a crack at entering the blogosphere and share some of my thoughts that can't be expressed in 140 characters or less (I could not resist a cliche reference to Twitter right off the bat...sorry) I am a huge fan of just about anything  advertising or sports related. That said, I do not intend on attempting to intertwine both advertising and sports into every post. There will be times where that will more than likely happen, but as popular as niche is becoming I am taking a stand and will attempt to go against the status quot and discuss two industries within the same medium.

Here goes post #1 (an advertising focused entry)...

Yesterday I saw a new TV spot during SportsCenter (so much for not intertwining...) for 1800 Tequila. The ad features Michael Imperioli who famously portrayed Christopher on "The Sopranos". My guess is that this ad will generate a lot of buzz because of its blatant attack on Patron. It is a great example in the ongoing debate of whether ads that directly mention/attack their competition  are A) fair game B) actually help your competition because of the "all press is good press" rule or C) whether they are even effective at all.

Yet, when I saw this ad, this debate was not the first thing that came to mind. Like many others, I am a huge fan of "The Sopranos". At the mid point of my senior year in college, I discovered I had a neighbor who owned every season of "The Sopranos" on DVD, ever. Needless to say a few of my roommates and I ripped through the entire series over the course of our winter break (I'm not a big skier or snowboarder so I had a lot of free time during winter breaks in's cold...check judgment at the door). A euphemism for this experience might be a  "timeless couch escapade". I agree with the masses that "The Sopranos" was a brilliantly done show and continues to have a huge influence on pop culture today.

Alright, I will try to get back to the tequila ad and to the point here but first a little more background. For those of you not familiar with "The Sopranos", Christopher's character was a very loose cannon with a lot of potential in Tony Soprano's mobster regime. He also had a serious drug and alcohol problem that became very significant to the plot throughout the series.

So when I first saw this TV spot, what immediately came to mind was, "Should Christopher be drinking?" Obviously this was a silly thought to have considering "Christopher" was a character in a fictional show. Yet, I guarantee the vast majority of people who recognize Michael Imperioli do so as the former Sopranos star, and I am willing to bet I am not the only one who thought about Christopher's drinking and drug habits when seeing him endorse a brand of Tequila. As I thought about it further, I decided that the ad could be portrayed many different ways; ironic, smart, insensitive or maybe I'm just crazy and nobody else really cares about this stuff because it is a pretty cool ad.

Yet, I question 1800 Tequila's choice of spokesperson. I have a hard time believing that during the concepting stages of this ad, nobody brought up this little detail about Michael Imperioli's past portrayal of Christopher. I am now wondering if he was chosen on purpose because people like me might over analyze the situation and talk to other consumers about it while generating buzz all at the same time (in that case, touche1800 Tequila).

I think it is important for alcohol based brands to be very careful with their advertising (which could easily be the topic of a whole other post, or five paragraph essay...everyone's favorite kind of essay, but I will spare you). Will anything come of this? Probably not, but I do not think it is smart to ignore details, especially the way consumers pick everything apart in today's world and how easy it is to post it online (see this post). Subtle details might not seem like a big deal, but when you are at the beginning stages of executing a very expensive campaign it is wise to make sure your ads don't contain elements that could lead to a negative uprising or just a small stir.

Only time will tell if this campaign helps 1800 Tequila become more top of mind in the classy tequila realm (if there is such a thing). I was once asked, "What are you doing tonight? You wanna get in the zone with some Patron?" So they might have a ways to go.

One love, one heart

Eric McPherson (Emac)

If you are at all interested in my shorter thoughts feel free to follow me on Twitter at @emacdizzle.

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