Beer advertising needed a jolt. And Jim Larmon, the chief creative officer at Cavalry/Chicago, has delivered a big one.
With the unveiling on Sunday of the new agency’s first work for Coors Light, Larmon and Cavalry have demonstrated quite clearly that all a shop really needs to do superlative work is a concept that’s fresh and exciting and the talent on board to execute it to perfection.
Sounds so simple. But not really.
We’ve already heard some jaded — and perhaps a bit envious — advertising types asking what’s so hot about a couple of commercials that take us to snowy mountaintops and deep inside an icy crevasse to watch determined mountain climbers deliver icy cold Coors Light to devotees eagerly waiting for their beers?
Some naysayers say the work is too obvious. Of course Coors Light has a connection to the mountains. They are there on the label. The brew is based in Colorado, where the Rocky Mountains are a constant reminder of that connection. What’s the big deal, they ask?
But to trash these Coors Light commercials on that basis is to miss the point. What makes these commercials titled “Ascent” and “Snow Cave” so special is the execution. The attention to detail that turns each of the spots into a 30-second long, finely-realized drama with a twist at the end.
Packed with punch and power
What is most noticeable to us about these beer commercials — and what instantly separates them from the pack — is the wonderful energy they possess. We had almost forgotten that a commercial is capable of delivering so much punch and power.
Perhaps that’s because humor has had such a stranglehold on beer advertising — heck all kinds of advertising. We had watched so many of those constricted beer commercials with their silly little punch lines for so long that we had forgotten advertising also can be big. Bold. Dynamic.
Until, that is, Larmon decided to make a statement with these Coors Light commercials.
It was the right thing to do. Because the work also makes a statement about Cavalry and where it’s headed, creatively speaking.
Thank heavens Larmon didn’t come to his job at Cavalry steeped in the do’s and don’ts of beer advertising. He didn’t feel he had to adhere to any particular rules and regulations. But by the same token, he hasn’t entirely broken with tradition, as it relates to beer advertising in general and Coors Light in particular.
By that we mean these Coors Light commercials still deliver a surprise ending that amuses — but without insulting one’s intelligence. And they still feature the familiar silver bullet train, but not in a way that detracts from the thrilling photography, the highly-charged musical underscoring or the sharp editing that make it impossible to turn away from these commercials and think “ok, here we go, more of the same ol’ same ol’.”
We couldn’t believe it when Larmon told us the director responsible for these attention-grabbing Coors Light commercials was Dave Meyers, a guy steeped in music video culture. We would never, ever have guessed that. But then Larmon said Meyers also was a guy interested in constantly stretching himself. And stretch he did with this work.
Enhancing Chicago’s creative profile
Now that Larmon and Cavalry have scored big with their debut effort for Coors Light, the question becomes: “Can they top it?” Cavalry’s top creative said the current plan is to do at least two more spots in the same vein as “Ascent” and “Snow Cave.”
After that, Larmon and Cavalry will have to decide if they want to stick with the high-energy approach, or perhaps find a way to come at humor in a different fashion. Whatever decision Larmon makes, our hunch is he won’t be satisfied doing anything that resembles most of the beer advertising out there now.
If Larmon can indeed keep on surprising and delighting us, it will be good for Coors Light and, just as importantly, for the creative profile of the Chicago advertising community
For too long too many here have seemed too mired in survival mode. And as a consequence too much of the work has been merely mediocre, rather than superlative and eye-catching.
As Larmon has suggested with this new Coors Light work, it’s important to find a way to make work pop. To make it feel like advertising matters. To make viewers care about it rather than just viewing it as so much clutter.
That is the most important takeaway we got from Larmon’s Coors Light debut.
Agency credits: CCO, Jim Larmon; art director, David McCradden; copywriters Stephanie Wrobel, Bill Lindsey; executive producer, Brian Smego.
Production company: @Radical Media, director Dave Meyers; EPs, Jim Bouvet, Frank Scherma; line producer, Steve Fredriksz.
Editorial: The Whitehouse, editor/partner, London-based John Smith; producer JoJo Scheerer.
Visual effects: Method/Chicago: CD Gil Baron; EP, Krystina Wilson. Color grading: Company 3/L.A., colorist, Dave Hussey.
Sound: Another Country, David Gerbosi, additional sound design and mixing.
Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com