Suit vs Monkey: Wes Anderson Edition
Though not as widely appreciated as their feature length productions, many A-list Hollywood directors have produced a slew of commercial TV spots. Wes Anderson is one of them. The kitschy mastermind behind films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox has an impressive ad portfolio.
In this week's edition of Suit vs. Monkey, copywriter @BrookJohnston and account manager @GuilleAnderson take a look at three of his campaigns and weigh in with their departmentally distinct viewpoints.
Sony Experia's "Imagination"
Creative Monkey Says: Our first and very fitting selection finds Wes Anderson inside a familiar setting: the boundless imagination of a curious child. I couldn't help but pick up on some dark Orwellian vibes as I watched the sombre robots being mercilessly worked, but I think Junior did a good job of selling me on the phone's impressive functionality.
The Suit Says: Though I initially did not sense that totalitarianism, I see where you’re coming from. I mean, the robots seem happy to record and deliver the media files (did you see their cool little rocket packs?). For me, what makes the commercial is 1) the set-up 2) the random robot story, and 3) Wes Anderson’s legitimacy in telling the story. After watching it, I'm not even thinking about the phone’s features…just those cool, helpful, mini-robots doing their mini-robot-thing.
Creative Monkey Says: So wait – doesn't that make it a bad ad?
The Suit Says: Not in my opinion, as it did challenge the pre-conceived notion I had of Sony - or lack thereof - in mobile. Maybe I won’t remember the specific features but I will, however, remember the overall approach to the story and execution. It does make the overall product somewhat more relevant to me. Did it do that for you as well? And what do you think of Anderson's Stella Artois spot? Different tone and approach altogether, but it maintains the high-level storytelling quality.
Stella Artois' "Gadgets"
Creative Monkey Says: I think you're right, it's all about tonality. Telus' cutesy animal mascots achieve the same thing; there's usually a loose connection to the product, but more than anything it simply works because of the emotions that the ad (and subsequently, the brand) evokes. I think the same can be said for this Stella spot. The 007 gadgetry doesn't say much about Belgian hops, but the lifestyle appeal fits with their premium brand. PS – did that chalice just murder that mistress?
The Suit Says: I think not, but…[Dun dun dun]. I want that apartment and gadgetry.
Regarding the lifestyle portrayed and it fitting the premium side of this brand, even if the story itself feels like it has nothing to do with the brand, it feels aligned. We know very well that mass is not great at yielding exact measurability around a campaign’s impact on sales, and nor is that its purpose, but this is why I would've loved getting my hands on that brief. Could it have been extended promotionally and could this approach be better measured? This spot tells a nice (if somewhat random) story. It presents an experience that could have translated nicely into the real world (I mean, who doesn’t like to play with a switch board?). But before we come back to “the real world”, let’s go back some 6 six years in quirky Weslandia and take a look at the behind-the-scenes approach to his work for Amex, starring Wes Anderson as Wes Anderson. This one captures it all for me.
Amex's "My Life, My Card"
Creative Monkey Says: Now, here's another spot that I truly want to love. It's well written, has good acting, and puts entertainment ahead of salesmanship. Bold move. And as a creative person, I totally dig it. Merely affiliating yourself with the dry humour and hipster credibility of someone like Wes Anderson gives your brand a big boost. But let me put on my client hat for a second and play devil's advocate: what's the message, again? That Amex can afford sought-after spokespeople? That they "get" pop culture and should be trusted with your money? It feels thin to me. But perhaps I just need to lighten up...
The Suit Says: Fair enough, but I see that very salesmanship hidden behind the entertainment. Yes, it clearly shows that they can afford the talent, but in hinting at Amex’s ability to stay on top these people’s weird tastes and lifestyles, it shows how they can, unlike other credit card manufacturers, deal with whatever needs us common folk may have. Having as big a credit-card issuer as Amex play in this space does a lot for me in differentiating their products from its competitors. I may have had a little bit too much Kool Aid to drink, but strategically speaking I think this execution pays off nicely on Amex’s brand and product offering. That feels like “the real world.” Now, am I an Amex member? No. Did this change my perception that Amex is expensive and not as widely accepted as my over-swiped Visa? No. But would I become a member and can I trust them with my money? Yeah, they’re cool.
All in all, writer-friend, what do you make of Wes Anderson’s body of work discussed to date?
Creative Monkey Says: I think it's good, but only because Wes Anderson is Wes Anderson. In other words, the ideas behind these 3 spots aren't killer. It's merely his trademark cinematographic varnish that makes them so enjoyable. If you gave the same storyboards to a different director they'd be completely mediocre IMO, which is a great testament to his talent. I give him a B for the ads, but an A for the work.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW OR FIND OUT HOW FUSE CAN HELP!
Sometimes it seems video game commercials are the most compelling thing on television (or online for that matter). A well-crafted trailer can be so enticing, you can’t wait to shell out 60+ bucks, bring that game home, and dive into another reality – if you’re a gamer that is.