Monday, May 19, 2014

David Abbott - The man I want to interview in my afterlife

Woke up to the news of David Abbott's demise, last morning. Twitterverse from the adland ensured I didn't miss any link that paid homage to this man and his exemplary work. Some posts went to the extent of saying that his death seems like a personal loss to them, that they feel a void. I get the void bit, notwithstanding the fact that most of us mourning haven't met him even once in our lifetimes. 

I have always heard his name whenever an ad veteran would talk about who he/she considered to be, well, ad veterans. When I first saw the Chivas Regal ad (thanks to a dear friend whose repertoire of knowledge of great advertising work I supremely envy), I felt more than just a lump in my throat. Wait, the ad first: 

This ad, these words, did what nothing has been able to do to me so far. It made me wish I were a son. More so, it made me wish I had a father who I could dedicate these words to. That's the most personal thought I've shared on the cloud so far. You can imagine the extent to which this ad would've made an impact on me. 

What's more? When I read more about his work and what he stood for, I understood how important it is to keep your writing simple. When you're in the business of writing (especially when you love words, like I do), it's always a challenge to keep your prose simple and your poems simpler. Over the years, I'm glad I have been able to gradually align my writing with his belief: 

“Words for me are the servants of the argument, and on the whole I like them to be plain, simple and familiar.”

To give you a sense of how much his fraternity and his peers revered him, here's something Tony Brignull, another British ad legend had said about Abbott once: 

"There are a few of us writers around who think of ourselves as the sons of Bill Bernbach. I have a feeling David is the only one who'd pass a blood test."

As I type this, I am listening to one of his interviews where he tells William Channer about what he learnt from Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Give it an ear, here

This is what he's saying right now: "When you start off in copywriting, you fall in love with words. In my early days in advertising, I used to be an inveterate punster. As I got older and wiser, my style became more plain."

And with that, my wish to interview him in my afterlife strengthens. 


You can relish some of his ads I found online: 

Pictures courtesy: Google Images

Monday, May 12, 2014

Budweiser - This Bud's For You

One could've started off with the Nip the evil in the 'bud' wisecrack but then I decided not to troll my own words.So, this story is about Adolphus Busch's classic tagline - 'This bud's for you!'

Quick history shower: Budweiser, 5% abv(alcohol by volume) is an American Lager introduced in 1876. Essentially a part of the US's popular culture, humour has been to Bud's ads what Isaiah Mustafa is to Old Spice. You get the picture. 

Back to the story: To this date, the most memorable Budweiser campaign (and you might want to dispute that but why, just read on) is the 1979 born ' 'This Bud's for you!' Created by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, the minute long commercial shows a slew of working men (and a few women) toiling hard in the field with a voice-over that goes: "This bud's for you. There is no one who does it quite the way you do. So here's to you, you know it isn't only what you say, it's what you do."

Here, connoisseurs, watch the spot: 

Relevance+Impact (Read: Yes, the sales went up): The commercial was relevant to the economic times (see what I did there, no, good) prevailing in that era and thus created a huge impact. How else would one explain the sales figures soaring despite the economic depression plaguing the nation at that time. Soon, Budweiser was able to acquire more than 35% of the US. beer market. Within the next two decades the share catapulted to more than 51%. Sales had more than doubled from 35 million to 86 million barrels. #win

15 years too young: Enterprising creativity (and the Clydesdale horses in the lattermost half of the century) are intrinsic to all of Bud's' ads. What's special about this tagline is that that they stuck to it for almost two decades until they severed their relationship with the then incumbent agency and gave the account to DDB Chicago (1994). And even though we saw many more remarkable campaigns after that, like the 'Real Men of Genius' (1998), or the campaign built around the catchphrase 'Whassup' (1999-2002); 'This bud's for you' still rings the nostalgic bell. Though 'Whassup' was a 'true' hit. See it for yourself. (One of the spots from the whassup series was aired during 2000 Super Bowl and had instantly become a pop culture rage)

Drama behind the glory: The story of how the campaign gained popularity is not an all pleasant one. One of the late 80s ads on the 'This bud's for you' theme concentrated on flaunting the body parts of models, some ad critics opined. That didn't deter the beer brand from unabashedly marketing itself as a masculine brand. In June 2008, Anheuser-Busch  signed a deal with the Brazilian-Belgian brewing company In Bev to give life to the world's largest brewer. Together they recorded an annual revenue of more than $37 billion in the year 2010 hence outdoing the No. 1 brewer in the world, SABMiller. The numbers clocked up to $43.2 billion as per their 2013 annual report. Not too bud. (Sorry, had to crack that one, however bad)

The script of the 1979 spot has been turned into a full fledged caller tune, the internet tells me. So, let's hum: 

“For all you do,
You know the king of beers is coming through!

For all you do...
This Bud's for you!”