Friday, June 13, 2008

Damn Right Your Father Drank It

Just in time for Father's day, we were reminded of Beam Global Wine & Spirits and BBDO Energy's new advertising campaign for Canadian Club: "Damn Right Your Dad Drank It."

Canadian Club's campaign works a familiar theme once employed by Oldsmobile, though from an opposing tack. While Oldsmobile tried to distance itself from its aging audience with the poorly-conceived "It's Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" campaign, Beam Global embraces the older generation exclaiming, variously, "Your Mom Wasn't Your Dad's First," "Your Dad Was Not a Metrosexual," and "Your Dad Had Groupies."

The campaign launched last November with radio, out-of-home, point-of-sale, and print ads appearing in Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Playboy, Men's Journal, Esquire, Outside, and Men's Fitness. These print ads were followed up with a street ad campaign featuring alternative titles ranging from "Your Dad Never Tweezed Anything" to "Your Dad Had a Van for a Reason."

One reviewer has asked if these ads represent an invitation to "return to the glory days of the hard liquor cocktail when beer was for factory workers and wine was for sissies? Can we now go back to the three martini lunch, pinch asses in the afternoon." Indeed, such an implication inspired Michelle Schwartz to launch her own project titled "Your Mom Had Groupies" which invites participants to submit their own designs using a mock Canadian Club template. Ironically, Canadian Club offers their own templated ad maker.

But despite qualms some critics have had over the campaign's overtly masculine tone, the Canadian Club ads do make masterful use of 60's and 70's imagery – from actual Beam Global employees, no less – to position dad as a once-cool man's man. And the ads do tap into a very real introspective process that men go through in their 30s and 40s, have kids, and settle down. They wonder, “Am I becoming my Dad?” Instinctively, we balk at the notion. But here, beneath the macho implications of the advertising copy, we see a representation of fathers everywhere that, if not accurate, is at least humanizing. At best, it's downright desirable.

My dad drove the derided Oldsmobile and avoided these lauded brown liquors. But I am drawn, nonetheless, to this campaign's message that, perhaps, dad was a little less "fatherly" in his youth. Of course, I knew that already. And I always though he was cool, the pimp Oldsmobile aside.

Ultimately, the message of these ads isn't any worse than their bikini-draped and oversexed counterparts in the beer industry. And they certainly aren't as directly sexist as the liquor ads of the late 70s and early 80s. At the risk of being crass, the new campaign's masculine overtones might even prove effective in reaching the target market for no other reason that the nostalgic humor they illicit between father and son.

Happy Father's Day. FB

No comments: