This week, AdAge did a piece predicting the big winners at Cannes next week. Their list includes the obvious (Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches”, Nike’s “Find Your Greatness”) and the less obvious (Samsung’s “Life of Insurance”). All are good and all are deserving, but one in particular has my own zealous support—I’m talking of course about Southern Comfort’s “Beach” film.
I love the Southern Comfort spot and I don’t care who knows. Now, allow me to count the ways.
I love the look of the film, I love the location, and the heat emanating off the film from the location. I love the song, that amazing cry of liberation from the forgotten, but (thanks to this film) not lost Odetta. I love the Dude—that stuck-somewhere-between-1976-and-1982-and-loving-it Dude—with his swagger and his paunch and his smirk. I love the Dude’s shades; mustache; hair; suntan; and his Speedos that aren’t really a Speedo, but equally ridiculous. I love the lounging old man the Dude walks over, the dog he picks up along the way, and the little dip he does when the girls walk by. And I love that brilliant, twelve-second disappearing act so perfectly placed three-quarters through the spot, the triumphant return, glass-in-hand, and the profile beach march that ends the film. And that funky, computer-generated flag in the glass (held up against naked gut and nipples), which weirdly wiggles like an alien as it states the brand’s tagline? I love that, too.
But here’s what I love the most—I love knowing that this one hundred second film actually worked as an effective piece of advertising. And the reason I know it worked is because when it first hit last summer, I sat in a bar at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA with my friend, Scott Mitchell, and we both ordered Southern Comfort. That’s right … Southern Comfort. A liquor that would have no sooner passed our lips than Old Grand Dad or Giacobazzi wine. Southern Comfort, a brand we previously associated with trashed-out images of Janis Joplin drinking straight out of the bottle and all-weekend music festivals featuring Molly Hatchet and Marshall Tucker. Southern Comfort, a brand that had as much relevance to us cool, ad guy types as an off-beige Ford Crown Victoria. We ordered, we drank and we loved. All because of that Dude, that song and that spot.
So that’s what it’s all about. And when I say “it”, I’m referring to advertising. It’s about brand’s creating an image and belief so inspiring and cool (let’s call it what it is—the word is “cool”) that we can’t help but want to bask in the coolness. So powerful, even supposed advertising professionals who should know better can’t escape being pulled in. Image and belief will get you every time, like they got me last summer when I ordered a Southern Comfort and did whatever’s comfortable in a bar in John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA.
Good luck in the South of France. We raise our glasses with the computer generated, alien flag for you.