3/25/07

Stella Artois - beer for idiots or brilliant campaign?

We all know that commercials operate on a primarily subliminal level. This is why most beer ads have a lot of jiggling, scantily clad women and buff dudes dancing around them, drinking the product being advertised. The message is simple, drink beer x and you will get laid. What are we then to make of the Stella Artois ads? I confess I am not a fan of this particular beer- I don't hate it but give me a Quebec microbrewery beer any day. Or even a Heineken. I love its slightly skunky taste. But Stella?
I am aware that in their efforts at gussying up beer advertising, they are attempting to appeal to a more high-brow audience. Perhaps not the usual frat boy, beer swilling, football watching "everyman" but a more erudite, Gauloise smoking, baguette carrying, sensitivo who enjoys old cinema, la po├ęsie, and doesn't just want to get lucky but actually have a conversation, maybe about art.
So I am baffled by these Stella ads. I suppose superficially they do look all artsy and black and white and sepia tinged, with beautiful music and that language of seduction, French. But the underlying message is that of sacrificing long term gain for short term pleasure. Isn't this one definition of idiocy? I mean, would you give up a brilliant manuscript that could possibly change your life and allow you to have anything you want, for one glass of beer? And what does that say about your commitment as an artist? You are easily bought?
What kind of soulless robot sells out a fellow human being for a beer? What Einstein trades a well-trained animal (and sends it to the butcher) for a glass of beer? As an aside, I would like to state that I am strongly against animals in advertising, or circuses or entertainment. Go the Peta.org for information if you are interested in knowing why. Or maybe that's the point ... as Billy Crystal used to say on SNL "It is better to look good than to feel good. And darling, you look marvelous." The Stella Artois spots look all moody and intense and marvelous. Very (pseudo) intellectual. But don't look too deeply into the message. And maybe this is the audience they want. Non-critical thinkers willing to accept the surface value of things. Hey, as long as it looks good, then by extension that means I look good. And that is all that really matters. Isn't it?

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