Now THIS is how to use an arsehole in an ad

Last week’s blog about the Cadillac ad caused a bit of a furore with quite a few readers contacting me to say that arseholes like the central character shouldn’t be used in ads. But I don’t think anything should be ‘off-limits’ in creativity – anyone and anything can be used in an idea, providing you put an interesting and intelligent spin on it. The Audi ad above is a great example; it’s the antithesis of the Cadillac ad. The idea of a complete fuckwit being the ‘star’ of the ad and being on screen for the full 60 seconds is brave and brilliant; the concept employs irony in a subversive way that was clearly way beyond the Cadillac team.

A few people thought the Cadillac ad was a spoof and my friend, the Creative Director Iain Ross, said that while watching it, he was waiting for it to “cleverly flip and make some kind of profound, poignant and relevant statement” about the car. It doesn’t do that, but the Audi ad does. By the time the yuppie in the Audi ad utters the unforgettable refrain “Gabby? Tell Charles I’m on my way. Taxi!” the viewer is totally in on the joke. When matey out of Band of Brothers winks at the end of the Cadillac ad, the viewer is completely alienated.

Another friend of mine works at the agency network that did the Cadillac ad and told me that it looked really good in the early stages before production. Which is a great reminder of the vital importance of tone – the tonality that comes from little script tweaks, casting decisions, cinematography and so on. I have nothing against the idea of working hard and aspiring to be successful – more on this tomorrow – but that message came out all mixed up, cynical and needlessly hostile.

As a side note, I’d always thought the Audi ad must have been a really tough sell to the client and wondered how BBH had pushed it through. Then, couple of years ago, I worked on some ads with Steve Hudson, the creative who did it (he’s an excellent commercials director now). He told me the story of presenting a bunch of scripts to John Hegarty, Hegarty immediately picking this one, vowing to get it made and making it happen. At another agency with another ECD, this could’ve been one of those ‘what if?’ ideas. The fact that this ad exists is another example – as if we needed one – of what made/makes BBH one of the greatest ever agencies. The Audi ad is audacious, counter-intuitive, unexpected. But, as Andy Warhol said, “Art is what you can get away with.”

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

2 Responses to Now THIS is how to use an arsehole in an ad

  1. Great ad and fantastic statement but I always thought it was too clever for its intended audience, who probably wanted to be yuppie protagonist. It’s the type of advert that will always be admired by the auteurs of advertising

  2. antmelder says:

    Not sure about that obsoletemachines. The target audience was the complete opposite of the yuppie in the ad. It was successful, intelligent young blokes’ not yuppies. The audience would’ve been horrified by the yuppie’s behaviour…and would’ve gravitated to the brand.

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