Ads of the week: KFC, Oreo and Coca-Cola make us smile. Björn Borg, however… WTF?

coke-taste the feeling

Here’s a round-up of ads released this week from KFC, Oreo, Coca-Cola, and Björn Borg.

As copy editor of ClickZ, I spend most of my time reviewing the content of others and making the necessary grammatical tweaks where needed. While I love my job, I can’t help but be a bit envious of the reporters and experts that get to share their perspective on the happenings in the industry.

So earlier this week, when my editor asked if I’d like to have a go at writing, I jumped at the chance. The opportunity to discuss my take on the world of advertising in my very own words was all too exciting. And what better place to start than to talk about my favorite ads that debuted this week.

Here goes… Hope you like it!

KFC’s finger-licken laughs

Rather than finding a frosty haired, chicken loving look-a-like, KFC has enlisted Saturday Night Live (SNL) alumni to play the iconic brand ambassador Colonel Sanders – first with Darrell Hammond and now Norm Macdonald.

For those of you who are familiar with Darrell Hammond’s body of work, casting Hammond would appear to be an obvious one. Holding the record for the second most number of character impersonations, his diverse repertoire of spot-on impersonations  of everyone from Bill Clinton to Sean Connery would make imitating the Colonel a piece of cake (or chicken). Though obviously intended as a funny bit, Hammond’s portrayal of the Colonel – from his old man physicality to his southern accent – was incredibly authentic, which was to be expected.

Yet, within months KFC made an abrupt move and surprised many by recasting the role of Colonel Sanders with Norm Macdonald. Here’s one of KFC’s ads released this week, as part of the campaign for Nashville Hot Chicken.

Don’t get me wrong – Macdonald excels at his own schtick –  his dry wit has been known to split many a side. Even Chevy Chase, the original anchor of SNL’s annual Weekend Update fake news segment, has revered Norm as the best anchor to follow in his footsteps. But while Macdonald excels at satire and astute commentary via observational comedy, impressions were never really his forte. Thus, his take on the role of the Colonel is more reflective of his personal comedic technique.

So why the change? I suspect that Macdonald was selected as the next Colonel because of the large discrepancy between he and Hammond’s comedic approaches. Though Macdonald’s interpretation of the Colonel still has some ole paw-esque quips –  like the choice of an old fashioned projector over digital tech – he is far more candid. We all know that an elementary explanation for a creative process accompanied by a vintage slideshow would only fly in a modern professional setting, if the mythical Y2K bug suddenly decided to rear its head 16 years too late. Yet, the executives erupt with applause in avid approval.

Humor within this ad derives from the delicate juxtaposition between contrasting elements of realism and absurdity – such as the inexplicable use of an oversized feather quill pen. Also, by using different comedians with different styles, the once mysterious persona of Colonel Sanders is made more dynamic. Who knew Colonel Sanders had such a great sense of humor?

The rolling wonder of Oreo

Oreo unleashed its Rolling Wonder ad this week, as part of a global campaign urging consumers to “open up with Oreo.”

The vocal stylings of Adam Lambert and the vibrant digital animation shows a utopian roller-rink where everyone is encouraged to be who they really are and accept others without judgement.

What I like about this ad is that Oreo is asking its audiences to recall the fearlessness of youth, when vulnerability of expression was still inherent and every new experience – good or bad – was still a worthwhile adventure. Even the shyest child has few inhibitions because they aren’t yet aware of the anxieties affiliated with socially imposed pressures. Kids navigate life as it comes and every situation has meaning and value.

Oreo wants us to remember the liberating innocence of childhood. Rolling Wonder reminds us that the world is still full of wonder and there are sweet, bite-sized rewards for those who remain open to it, even after growing up. The proof is in the pudding (or the cream-filled center).

Coca-Cola refreshes its slogan

Coca-Cola revealed its latest global campaign for the new tagline, Taste the Feeling. Currently four agencies have already facilitated in the production of a slew of print, digital and TV ads: Ogilvy & Mather, Mercado-McCann, Sra. Rushmore, and Santo.

Rodolfo Echeverria, vice president of global creative, connections and digital at Coca-Cola, described this campaign as “emotional product communication” in a recent statement.

“We’re going from Open Happiness to exploring the role Coca-Cola plays in happiness,” Echeverria said. “We make simple, everyday moments more special.”

The commercial What is a Coca-Cola For? is essentially a visual mission statement for the entire campaign.

By incorporating the classic beverage into universal experiences, Coca-Cola is able to connect with consumers on a deeper level.

Whereas the other ads within this campaign feature Coke in moments of success, joy, and triumph, The Break Up places a microscope over an intimate portrait of a relationship.

As Alexander Cardinale croons the poignant lyrics, we witness the full arc of a romantic affair. Coke is there every step of the way – from the first meeting, to the first shared soda and kiss. But these first moments of bliss eventually hit a wall with the onset of the first argument – and you know whatever these two were fighting about had to have been serious, if even the bottle needed to shed some tears.

crying coca-cola

Yet, the true test of a couple’s strength is to move forward once the storm passes. When this couple reconciles, they are brought together again with a smile – and a Coke, obviously.

The curious case of Björn Borg sports couture

My initial judgement of Swedish sports apparel brand Björn Borg’s latest ad, Björn Borg and Xu Box Present SPORTS COUTURE, went as follows: Is this cross-promotion for a new Wes Anderson movie? Maybe a note handwritten in calligraphy will appear soon and clarify whatever is going on here.

Once I realized that no such direction was going to come, I literally couldn’t stop watching the video. The odd combination of retro-styled workout gear encapsulated by the modern environmental aesthetic was cloaked in so much mystery, I’m pretty sure I lost an hour of my life just trying to wrap my head around what was happening in the ad.

I just had so many questions! First of all, what is a Xu Box? Is this some athletic term that I just haven’t come across yet due to a mostly sedentary lifestyle? Who are these women – are they related? Are they celebrity athletes, models, avant garde performance artists, or all of the above? Is underground minimalist techno the next wave in trendy gym jams? Does hugging yourself/pretending to makeout with your invisible boyfriend now qualify as cardio? If I pretend to makeout with my invisible boyfriend for long enough, could I drop enough pounds to squeeze into a pair of couture shorts?

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Had I stopped watching the ad long enough to express these inquiries to Google, I could’ve answered all these questions for myself within seconds. But the monotonous fluidity of their movements was so mesmerizing, I just couldn’t break my hypnotic red, white, and blue trance. Perhaps the manner in which the ad successfully drew me in, while simultaneously igniting a flurry of questions was the basis of the ad’s appeal. It’s purpose is to make consumers think differently about activewear.

I later read that Xu Box is actually a mother and daughter DJ/fashionista duo. Although my understanding of what that actually means is still relatively hazy, at least they are pretty to look at – entrancingly so, in fact. Also, my invisible boyfriend has had no complaints about my new exercise regimen.

What did you think of the ads that were unveiled this week? Don’t forget to tell us in the comments!

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