#656: 1970, Odetta, Hit or Miss

by Charlie_East_West on March 31, 2013

The advertising industry is a fickle mistress. Having worked in and around this industry for the best part of 10 years, I have seen enough fluff and guff to have aged by 20 years. Call me an old cynic, but most of what is produced in the name of ‘creativity’ does not cut the mustard with me.

Occasionally, something breaks through that either brings a smile to my cynical face, or is just so mind-bogglingly fantastic, I think it must have been dreamt up in the mind of Donald Draper.

I suggest that there are two types of genius in all forms of creativity. There are those who look at putting things together in an unpredictable way, and those who see the world in the same way as us and yet still know that we can see something in an even better way. Danny Boyle‘s Olympics Opening Ceremony springs to mind as a combination of both. It was the holy grail of creativity.

Southern Comfort’s Whatever’s Comfortable 2012 campaign also combines both types of creativity. It is unpredictable and moves things forward massively for the perception of the brand. It tears up the rule book of advertising and presents us all with a form of anti-advertising.

Southern Comfort was a brand in the doldrums. It was seen as an uncool drink about town, or even in the comfort of your own home. The creative team bravely used this as their USP and presented us with what I consider to be the finest advert produced in the last 20 years.

It takes a fat perma-tanned elderly man wearing a pair of speedos on a walk down a hot and sultry beach. As he slowly strolls down the beach, he veers off for a few seconds out of shot and reemerges clasping a large glass of Southern Comfort.

He looks so bloody perfectly comfortable in his own skin. I want to be that pot bellied, moustachioed, swaggering man – just for a few seconds. I want to drink whatever he is drinking. I want to drink that Southern Comfort. Fuck it. Fuck ‘em all. Fuck what anyone else will think.

Nailed it. Southern Comfort absolutely nailed it. Within a few seconds of pitch perfect anti-advertising, Southern Comfort have gone from brand zero to hero. Genius.

The whole thing is wrapped around one of the finest slabs of the coolest music you will ever hear. It is a rarity version of Odetta’s Hit or Miss – again, perfectly encapsulating the essence of the advert in the lyrics:-

“Oh you see
I gotta be me
Ain’t nobody
Just like this
I gotta be me
Baby hit or miss”

The whole thing taps into the wonderful feeling of being comfortable with yourself. It is advertising and music wrapped up as a celebration of being just who you are, and sod the naysayers.

So, I present the coolest advert you will ever see, and one of the coolest songs you will ever hear.

Right, where is that old bottle of Southern Comfort that must be lurking somewhere at the back of my drinks cabinet?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth March 31, 2013 at 7:17 am

By “sultry” I suppose you mean that the beach contains far more bikinis than it does young males… the ad surely far more likely to win an award for the agency than increase sales for the product. I expect the industry has a name for such efforts.

There’s a reason for this. SC tastes ‘orrible – I notice that even Mr Man Boobs doesn’t actually try to drink the stuff.

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Charlie_East_West March 31, 2013 at 8:00 am

Sultry definition: hot and humid.

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Charlie_East_West April 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

The advert has had a positive effect on sales. After years of decline, sales for Southern Comfort increased by 3.2%, with a 16% net profit increase over the term of the advertising campaign.

Advertising sells, if done correctly.

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