Rodeo Drive Meets Madison Avenue

Today’s guest RepMan is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.

Turkey Visual 3Campari bought the Wild Turkey brand in 2009. Fast forward to 2016, and given the Millennials’ growing taste for authentic American whiskies, they feel it’s finally their time. To reach this new audience, they chose a nontraditional tack by eschewing traditional agency creative.

In a self-directed documentary on the brand, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey explains, “This is my new gig: Creative Director of the new Wild Turkey campaign. I want to be more than just a face. I want to have my hands in the clay of how we tell the story…be a part of the whole story, not just a character in it.”

Matthew’s not going to suddenly morph into a well-groomed hipster and simply pitch Wild Turkey at Millenials. McConaughey is quoted in the New York Times as saying, in an ominous tone, “They can smell it.” … “Millennials, and I know this for a fact, can smell solicitation. And it’s a turnoff. The best ads are not solicitous.” Gosh, what a clever guy. I mean, who the heck needs some old agency’s strategic planning expertise anyway? Matthew seems to have his finger strategically placed on the pulse of the Millennial audiences’ psyche. That’s just what a multi-talent he is.

I’m honestly not here to spoil the party, but I feel compelled to point out a few facts and observations. First, solicitous means, “showing interest or concern.” Not the same as soliciting, “…overtly trying to obtain something from someone”, i.e., Millennials’ brand loyalty. Now, I am quite solicitous about the future of Wild Turkey. Oh, all right, I’ll give Matthew a break. He’s not a writer, he’s an actor. Oops, he’s a Creative Director now, he does have to actually write. Matthew to Matthew tip: real writers are required to own, and use, a real dictionary.

Wild Turkey had been using San Francisco agency, Vitro. This latest assignment went to their new agency of record, JWT, New York. Got to wonder why Matthew is giving up all those future Oscars to burn the midnight oil for a little Effy. And how the heck did they get his mobile home from the back-lot to his high perch atop 466 Lexington Avenue?

Brands partnering with celebrities on ad campaigns goes as far back as the 40’s. Not nearly that long ago, during the years Coca-Cola owned Columbia Pictures, I was part of a stable of real creative directors developing Coca-Cola spots for Hollywood film directors. I saw, first hand, that it occasionally worked very well. And that when it didn’t work, it quite simply never aired.

That’s Holly­wood. Of the 25 or so pictures Coca-Cola’s, Columbia Studios released each year, only a few turned a profit, but they always made enough to offset the losers. In Hollywood parlance, this is success. So, with Columbia in the equation, when 20 of the 26 commercials they did for Coke bombed, some too embarrassing to air, they shined a klieg light on the success of the animated “Polar Bears” spots and claimed a banner, creative year.

Just imagine how long you’d last with that success rate at your average agency. Every marketing effort may not be a huge success, but as experienced experts, we provide more than a modicum of success. I sincerely hope, allowing for real JWT creative director assistance, Matthew will meet Wild Turkey’s expectations and not end up looking like one.

By the way, after the film, Ishtar, lost $40 million, unleashing a torrent of bad press, Coke sold Columbia for a healthy, half-billion-dollar profit. Hmm, maybe they’re on to something.

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