Why Alcoholic Ads Are ‘Belly’ Funny

July 27, 2009 Blog 3 comments

Being one who don’t mind an occasional tipple (or two or three), I have always wondered about why alcohol advertisements – particularly those touting beer – have always set the benchmark in terms of humour and hilarity.

Targeted at largely men, alcohol ads often tackle the lowest denominators of male desire. It is little wonder then that sexy scantily clothed females, outright sillyness and football/soccer/footie (or any combination of the above) are often used as themes. Somehow the idea of having a good time, getting a beer buzz and laughing till you drop seems to flow beautifully together. Oh and of course celebrities like the sensational Jessica Alba and the whimsically whiskered George Lam, amongst others.
Let us look at some examples of funny beer commercials. The first is one of my favourites which is currently running on cinemas and TV screens in Singapore.

Heineken Beer has always been known to create comedic commercials and the one above simply rocks. It has all the elements of a good advertisement – parody, a good twist, contextual relevance, and positive brand positioning. The classy contemporary setting of the advertisement starred by chic good looking urbanites helps to reinforce the brand properties of Heineken which claims to be “The Best Beer in the World” (humility obviously isn’t one of them!). Notice that while there appears to a hint of a battle amongst the sexes, it is done in a tasteful and un-demeaning manner.

A similar approach is taken for the next commercial by Budweiser, which takes a snipe at the whole sunbathing experience.

Notice how the protoganist above behaved in a way that is less masculine than one would normally imagine – which is quite similar to the one above. In Budweiser’s case, it is slightly more low brow with a stronger tongue-in-cheek component.

The next commercial from Stella Artois has all the flair of a French ad, and is tasteful and witty, and perhaps a little subtle until you get to the punchline. What I like about it is that it conveys the character of Stella Artois as a smooth brew that is debonair yet whimsical.

Funny alcohol commercials can also be found in Asia. An example is the Thai one below which uses a possible scenario in a household when a husband had one too many bottles of whiskey. Personally, I found it a little risque and mildly insensitive if taken in the wrong way, but perhaps there may be some who could identify with that scenario. It is quite obvious that this brand of whiskey isn’t targeted at the suits in the executive suite.

Next, we go all the way down under to sunny Australia with an expensive epic-style effort by Carlton Brew (which hails from Victoria where I am currently in). Its an interesting play on various themes like epic fighting movies, grand choral performances and perhaps an alcoholic delusion of grandeur. The ad is starred by actors resembling your average Aussie bloke, complete with their unmistakeable sense of humour and fun.

Let me finally end by going to a slightly older example which is probably on the lips of any student in viral marketing or effective advertising – Anheuser-Busch’s Budweister Frogs. The Bud Frogs spawned (pun unintended) so many variants that its accompanying screensaver (that notorious budsaver.exe file!) was even labelled as a virus (which isn’t true apparently). Well, here’s the 14 year old original commercial for fans of the cold-blooded critters:

There is apparently a whole series of these amazing amphibians and their duel with cunning chameleons here.

What I liked about these classic commercials – which incidentally never aired in Singapore as we were too small a market for Budweiser – are that they did not show a single can of beer throughout the commercial. There isn’t any sexy blondes in bikinis or hunky guys kicking an air-filled leather bag around the field. Probably the only thing demeaning about this ad is the way amphibians are given an anthropomorphic twist.

But then again, so was Kermit the Frog.

For more barrels of laughter, do visit this blog which compiles all manner of beery fun.

PS – This post does not promote drinking per se and readers are advised to use their own discretion. Those under 18 years of age should seek parental consent if they feel that viewing these commercials will stoke their desire to drink!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


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