Big Ad. Big Budget. Big Laugh. Big Sales?

I recently joined the ranks of millions, billions, trillions, maybe kazillions who are raving about this ad (click hereto view) for Carlton Draught.

If you haven’t already seen you should. It is not only just plain funny, it has also become a bit of phenomenon in it’s own right. It pokes fun and the whole concept of big ads with big budgets trying to capture people’s attention for stuff that isn’t really that exciting by itself. And doing so on the internet generate huge buzz – and actually tons of impressions (and blog entries, see below for a selection) – before it even aired on TV.

I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud – I love the ad – but what does it really accomplish? I get that it broke through and generated attention, but what does it say about the brand, beyond it being playful? What does it say about the product? Yeah, it’s “made from beer” which is a heck of a lot more honest than lots of other beer ads but beyond that? And what does it do for real demand – although I loved the ad and was tempted to give the beer a try just for the heck of it – I can’t buy it in Washington. And finally, what does this whole thing say about the state of marketing today?

This got me puzzling on multiple levels. This whole thing feels very zen:

  • If the medium is the message – which is the medium? expensive broadreach TV or the relatively free web/blogsphere?
  • But is the marketing of marketing actually marketing?
  • This is a stunt about how silly marketing can be (and I think about how incredibly hard it has become to do packaged goods marketing). But is the stunt the substance? (speaking of substance – I love the tagline “Made from Beer”)
  • Beyond the stunt what does this really say about the product? Are high production values the same as real product value?

No answers from me but a lot to think about.

Here’s a selection of some of other sources and opinions:

  • The Business Network highlights how the ad is already viral (this post a case in point) although it only recently aired.
  • Brand Republic lauds how “Carlton & United Beverages has broken the rules of advertising spend secrecy”
  • Ad Rag highlights all the classic elements and shares our hope that “this big big ad sells many many pints of Carlton Draught.”
  • Chris Busch and Blog that shouldnt be are a few of the places I found this in the first place.
  • has a whole forum on this, with a great statement: GO ALCOHOL
  • Duncan’s TV Ad Land gives great background on the directors
  • Polaine highlights how viral works.
  • Charles highlights two more Carlton ads that are very funny