3 stories behind 3 unforgettable ads

Today, the Super Bowl is about to make some ad makers legends in their own lunch boxes and probably shift a lot of product. (They better; a 30 second spot costs $5 million. Fact.) These ads better be pretty darn good because they will be compared with some pretty ingenious commercials that have gone before them.

Although, it can be mind boggling what is considered ingenious. When you think about it, some of the most memorable – and enjoyable – ads are weird. They work but it’s hard to imagine how they ever got past the first brainstorming session let alone approved for funding.

“We’ve got this great idea for an ad that will sell tonnes of Budweiser and become a worldwide viral phenomenon!”
“OK. Let’s hear it.”
“There’s a bunch of guys - one's delivering pizza and another is surfing the internet and two of them are watching football and drinking beer.”
“OK …. What do they say?”
“Wassup? What else?”
“That’s it really.”

Yeah. That happened.

Here’s how:

Budweiser Original Whassup Commercial

This irresistible little ditty (c’mon you know you’re saying ‘Whassup!’ in your head right now) made its debut in late 1999 but really went ballistic after it was aired during the Super Bowl in 2000. It was borne from a short film called True and was brought to life by DDB thanks to a young gun by the name of Justin Reardon.

Reardon was shown the short film and it spoke to him. “It was scary how close it was to me and my buddies,” said Reardon. His instinct told him that others would relate to it too and although Budweiser wasn’t immediately convinced, the company agreed to make the ad happen with a limited budget and run it on a small scale to test audience reactions. Turns out, the eventual gamble on the Super Bowl spot paid off.

It was the new age of internet accessibility and Whassup! turned into one of the first viral campaigns of the era.  Not only did the ad clean up at the advertising awards in Cannes that year while internationally, people headed to Budweiser.com in droves where they could learn to say “Whassup” in over 30 languages, but Budweiser stocks spiked.

I’d like to buy the world a Coke

This ad took the world by storm and its strapline became part of the vernacular (just check out Reality Bites or the last ever Mad Men if you don’t believe me).
Forget Don Draper; we can thank Bill Backer from McCann Erickson for this one. The notion came to him in 1971 while stranded in Ireland after heavy fog cancelled his flight. As he waited in the airport cafĂ© drinking Coca-Cola with fellow travellers sharing stores, the experience drew him to the notion that rather than a refreshing beverage, at that moment, Coke was a commonality between all peoples – unifying and universally liked.
At first his attempts to persuade his colleagues that the idea of buying everybody in the world a Coke was a great idea wasn't particularly successful but he eventually talked them around. That year, radio stations across the US played the song, I’d like to buy the world a Coke and a tv commercial soon followed featuring 500 extras. The song was later recorded by the New Seekers as a pop song (I’d like to teach the world to sing) and became a Top 10 hit.

I hear Coke sales have been doing OK in the aftermath, too.

I Feel like a Tooheys

Bowie’s Tooheys
 Did you know? The late David Bowie sung the I Feel Like A Tooheys jingle during an encore to an Australian show in 1978.

There were undoubtedly many magnificent mad men involved in conceiving this highly successful campaign in the 80s for Tooheys, but it’s the jingle that continues to resonate. Jingle may be an outdated term – as are the jingles themselves – but these songs wrote the rule book on brand creation and cut-through in the 70s and 80s days thanks largely to Alan Morris and Allan Johnston.

The duo formed the agency Mojo that lives on today as Publicis Mojo, an Australian subsidiary of the French multinational advertising and communications company holding Publicis Groupe.

Morris and Johnston’s notoriety came to the forefront with their catchy “you outta be congratulated …” message for margarine company, Meadow Lea. They did the same for countless other brands – including Tourism Australia, Qantas, XXXX and Kerry Packer’s World Series cricket (“C’mon Aussie c’mon!), but I feel like a Tooheys is widely considered their most memorable. It hit Australian’s where they live: sports. In addition to surfing, similar narratives were also made paying homage to cricketers, rugby league teams — even sailing.

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