Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Dos Equis Destroying the Most Interesting Man in the World?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: First, The World’s Most Interesting Man -- whom I’ll just refer to as the WMIM for brevity’s sake -- is one of the most enjoyable marketing campaigns I’ve seen. Dos Equis can claim that. It’s not just they created a character worthy of our attention, but also in their novel approach to marketing language. The WMIM could have said:

“I don’t often always drink beer but when I do, I drink Dos Equis.”

But he doesn’t. The phrase is:

“I don’t often always drink beer; but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.”

The subtle difference means everything in portraying the WMIM as a person of sophisticated discernment. Dos Equis is a matter of preference -- superior preference in this message’s case -- rather than the narrower connotation that drink brings to bear. Slate did a pretty good analysis of it here:

And yet, with Dos Equis’s latest slew of advertising featuring the WMIM, it’s clear every last droplet of charm will be wrung out of this great character -- a gem in a vast commercial wasteland.

We’ve seen it countless times before, displayed grimly in the over-exposure of the Geico Cavemen and the “I’ve just saved 10 percent” spot. The “Priceless” commercials of Mastercard -- inspired at their beginning -- are now so dull and monochromatic they merely add to the static between shows. The lesson? Stretch a thing too far, and it becomes difficult to even discern what you’re looking at after a point.

In the case of the WMIM, I’m afraid Dos Equis is going to take sophisticated and turn it into tacky.

If you haven’t seen the spot it goes like this: Dos Equis presents a bearded man to you through vintage film stock and reads off a series of one-liners about him in order to build his mystery.

“The police often question him, just because they find him interesting.”

“His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body.”

The aim is celebration, but at what point does celebration become disingenuous? Like a person who compliments you too much, the praise sounds hollow and forced if too much is hurled your way.

Consider the one-liners of the 2009 spots.

“His reputation is expanding faster than the universe.”

“He once had an awkward moment, just to see what it feels like.”

“He lives vicariously through himself.”

On the surface these are as quirky and charming as 2007’s. But they lack a touch of humility that makes the WMIM knowable and defines part of his charm. While the language of 2007’s spots stayed away from absolutes (even the beard line said “a lesser man’s entire body” leaving room for another person on the WMIM’s level), the rhetoric of 2009’s does more to make him seem like the Ubermensch.

I harbor little doubt Dos Equis will rely on the WMIM to sell beer for a long time to come. If they come out with new commercials, they will be obliged to pick up the absurdity if only to keep their character fresh. Soon we may be hearing lines like:

“He’s so attractive, he’s only attracted to himself.”

“When he is angry, volcanos erupt.”

“When he speaks, mere mortals’ heads explode at the splendor of his voice.’

“He’s so strong, he and his blue cow Babe plowed the Grand Canyon.”

Greek Gods and tall tales are made this way. Honestly, I don’t want to get to know the unknowable over a beer.

*Thanks to Daniel for the clarification


Ozkirbas said...

What a fantastic concept. I wish I could tell people my beard has experienced more than a lesser man's entire body. But, then again... I think I may have told someone something similar at some point. Heh.

Ad-companies tend to beat the horse until it dies... and then beat it some more to see if it'll twitch at all.

Ad-meetings must also be a pooling of the most vapid, idiotic ideas ever conceived.

Exhibit A: Snickers

"Learn to speak snacklish
"Get funky on the snaxaphone"
"Destroy the chompitition"

How do you sell this idea? Seriously? Did an Ad-exec watch Juno and go "Wait wait wait. Hip slang using pieces of words ironically out of context? If that's not Snickers, I don't know what is! Brilliant!"

Jason Heat said...

Yeah... one has to remember that 'snaxaphone' and 'chompitition' sound like things I would say in every day life Dudical Jones.

B.Graham said...

@John - remember when you and Steve (non-gentleman) would get into beard growing contests?

B.Graham said...

also: these MIMW epithets are sounding more and more like Chuck Norris jokes, except when they were Chuck Norris jokes, they got funnier the more ridiculous they were. With this, it's clearly already been done.

PS: If you spell Chuck Norris's name in Scrabble, you win. Forever.

Ozkirbas said...

I do. It was the world's most interesting contest.

Matt Lindeboom said...

And the furriest, not doubt.

Ozkirbas said...

We don't always grow beards, but when we do - we prefer them to be furry.

Daniel said...

*i dont always drink beer.

i love these ads, they haven't gotten stale to me at all. and that's saying a lot, since i hate most everything. i think they're funny, clever, and i love the old footage/jules verne feel in the second one.

will it eventually get played out? sure. but not yet for me.

David Pratt said...

Blasphemy. All of those are facts about Chuck Norris blatantly ripped off.

Matt Lindeboom said...

On the contrary, David!

The hallmark distinction between Chuck Norris facts and MIMW facts are the latter's devotion to confidence and sophistication where as the former's are almost exclusively dedicated to his pugnacity. For example:

MIMW: "His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man's entire body."

Norris: "Behind Chuck Norris's [bearded] chin, there's another first."

David Pratt said...

While some of these are simply re-worded facts about Chuck Norris, I will acknowledge that they are in fact made significantly less manly first.