When Alex Bogusky came out with his anti-soda ads this week it reminded me of “the letter.” The letter I am referring to is Don Draper’s infamous “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” letter from Season 4 Episode 12 of Mad Men entitled “Blowing Smoke.” Bogusky, like Draper, has turned and bitten the hand that once fed him. Here are 5 similarities between the two top creatives and their parallel decisions:
- Former large client: Bogusky at one time had Coke Zero as a client and Draper’s business was once focused on Lucky Strike. This correlation is plain as day. However, a client is still a client and this is a small world. A marketing decision-maker at Coke may one day be at another client or potential client. Then what? Advertising is a small world and only someone as established as Bogusky or the fictional Draper can get away with this. I would not recommend it for the majority of ad men or women.
- Provides a ‘killer’ ad: Looking at the video and the letter, you can’t help but admit they are powerful. Draper does not go as far as to cut off Lee Garner Jr.’s leg with a chainsaw, as Bogusky depicted, but they both still make their point very loudly.
- Everybody’s talking about it: Since it is controversial many more people are looking at the ad than normally would have. Think about it. If Bogusky made the ad for another industry it would have still been interesting but not as buzz-worthy. Now that it has come out, it is all the advertising industry can talk about. This clearly exhibits why he is still the one of the top creative minds of our day.
- The client’s industry is under attack: Even though soda won’t kill you like tobacco will, there are still many harmful effects. Bogusky does a fine job of listing a number of the top statistics that support this thinking. The soda pop industry has been taking a beating lately with New York being the first city to ban the sale of large sugary drinks. Read more about the ban. Although cigarettes were not banned in the 1960’s they certainly were under a lot of pressure from the surgeon general. On the heels of the recent ban, Bogusky’s ad doesn’t waste any time in supporting the downfall of soda’s popularity.
- The is focused on the industry, not the client: Whether you’re blowing smoke or sipping soda it’s the same idea. While Draper focused on tobacco being harmful to people, Bogusky focuses on the negative effects of soda pop. This focus on the industry as a whole does not directly damage the reputation of the client but it will provide lots of industry backlash towards Coke and others. Draper reaffirms his point that cigarettes kill and he will sleep at night now that he doesn’t work for Lucky Strike while Bogusky uses Coke’s famous polar bears to bring a more subtle approach. Either way, I don’t think either of them will be working for their respective clients again.
Bogusky asks viewers to “Dump the Unhappy.” It makes you wonder what effect this will have on his former agency CP+B in any future pitches. Although he no longer works for the company he will always have that connection with his name on the door. What would you do in this situation? Would you be like Alex Bogusky and Don Draper or would you play it safe? I’ll plead the fifth.
One day, 50 years from now, our grandchildren will ask “Why did you drink that stuff Grandpa?” And I’ll say, “Because it was cool.” Just as we ask our parents and grandparents today about cigarettes.
Watch the video in AdAge here: http://adage.com/article/agency-news/alex-bogusky-takes-coca-cola-soda-companies/237670/
Read “the Letter” here: http://madmen.wikia.com/wiki/%22Why_I’m_Quitting_Tobacco%22