Whatever's Comfortable

Here’s the latest from Southern Comfort.

It’s the newest installment in a series from Weiden + Kennedy, New York. A continuation of their theme ‘Whatever’s Comfortable’.

I think I felt obliged to be affronted on behalf of Claude Hopkins and would declare pompously ‘And where may I ask, is the call to action?!’

I actually quite like it.

I think perhaps I’ve been a little naive in judging alcohol ads in the past. I’d probably only just read ‘Scientific Advertising’ and was so immersed in 'split testing' and 'coupon-based customer tracking', that any brand-advertising just looked crazy.

I think I felt obliged to be affronted on behalf of Claude Hopkins and would declare pompously ‘And where may I ask, is the call to action?!’

Well now, I’ve changed my mind slightly. It’s partially due to the fact I know a little more about advertising standards and practice.

When it comes to alcohol the rules are draconian.

Quite properly probably, it’s still a drug that can be really harmful after all.

But if you’re an alcohol brand you can’t really mention any of the best things about the product. Namely, it gets you pissed, and being pissed is fun and feels good.

Out of interest, here are the main provisions from The BCAP code, which governs alcohol ads on the telly.

A quick skim-read will show you that alcohol brands effectively have both hands tied behind their backs. They, therefore, have to do things a little differently, be more creative.

I’ve lionized the Dos Equis ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ on this blog before, not to mention the Stella Artois ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ series. I wouldn’t put the Southern Comfort ‘Whatever’s Comfortable’ series in that hallowed category, but I do think it has something going for it.

I think they’ve done well to drop the ‘Soco’ rebranding efforts, which to me felt a little forced. Instead, they’ve gone for ‘unlikely heroes’ enjoying Southern Comfort. There’s the ‘geek chic’ bartender we’ve already seen, and earlier ads showed a weird guy in a salon and a fatty on the beach. They’re outsiders really, but through the soundtrack and way the ads are shot - they seem cool. I reckon these characters are perfect ambassadors for the brand, which is something of an outsider itself.

Both these work well, especially since they look so filmic. To me, the whole aesthetic shouts ‘American Hustle’. The hair, costumes and sets in that film were just about hitting the tipping point from old and naff, to retro and cool. And I think that’s exactly what Wieden + Kennedy have got right here.

Now I may be biased, because I love jazz, but if you simply plonked a glass of Southern Comfort with a ‘Whatever’s Comfortable’ flag in Christian Bale’s hand, wouldn’t this scene be a great addition to the series?

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