I was sitting on the couch, watching Guy Fieri tell Lou Diamond Phillips that his ribs were the “bomb diggity” or “winner winner, chicken dinner” or some other vaguely positive California white guy thing. He may have used the adjective “hella.” I’m not really sure. I was paying the sort of half attention that a celebrity cook off merits. I remember that Cheech Marin can cook, if that counts for anything.
The thing that shocked me was that during the commercial break, I saw the new Molson M commercial. I believe in giving credit where it’s due, so I figure that I should probably talk a little bit about the commercial, if only for the reason that I think it’s a marked improvement on previous Molson ad campaigns.
If you haven’t seen it, I’ll provide a link to it so you can go away and watch it and then come back.
The problem that I’ve had with previous campaigns run by Molson is that, in the case of Canadian at least, the commercials didn’t ring true. In addition to the fact that very few of the people who live in Toronto have ever seen a swaying field of barley, the Canadian commercials raise a difficult logical fallacy: The No True Scotsman argument.
The No True Scotsman argument can be applied in a number of different ways, but essentially it runs like this: No True Scotsman wears underwear with a kilt. You are wearing a kilt, and while you may put salt in your porridge or have an affinity for single malt or speak fluent gaelic or hail from Aberdeen or own the complete works of Rod Stewart or have a long, proven ancestral line harkening back to Robert the Bruce, you are wearing boxer briefs under that kilt and I don’t care that it is a rental, you are wearing boxer briefs and you are therefore not a Scotsman.
Since not X then not Y, even if the tautology is demonstrably false based on extenuating factual evidence.
The thing about the Molson Canadian ads is that historically, they have asserted things about you, the consumer. You like mountains and lakes and rivers and you’re out there on God’s green earth communing with a herd of elk whenever possible.
Similar claims have been made recently by a series of Tide commercials that suggest that no true Canadian would ever consider putting off doing something because it’s cold out. This is, of course, a load of bollocks. If it’s -60 with the wind chill, I can practically guarantee you that you’re better off with a snuggie and a hot cocoa and a selection of hibernatory naps. Consider the words of Alden Nowlan:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
You’re not less sensible than a poet, are you? No, I didn’t think so. Clearly, it’s a false statement on the part of the cold water Tide campaign. They then go on to make an unrelated statement about how since you can go outside in the cold, your clothes should be washed in cold water. This makes me unremittingly angry, and I have to turn off the TV and go lie down for a while.
Bit of a digression there.
Anyway, Molson M’s campaign is a change in strategy for Molson in that it does not assert anything about you, the consumer. That’s a big step forward because the ad is suddenly about the product.
I think that it’s successful because it’s clearly meant to be inclusive of an urban market, which is, let’s face it, what Canada is predominantly comprised of. It displays people who are masters of their crafts doing what they do. There’s a ballet dancer doing what I assume is some kind of grand jete. There’s Mark McEwan, flambéing something with a taciturn look on his face. There’s a graffiti artist composing a mural. A drummer, banging away at a snare. A tattoo artist, applying ink.
Finally, it cuts away to a Molson brewmaster, Jonathan Lowes doing some stuff in a brewery. He’s crushing hops in his hands and smelling them. He’s pulling a sample from a tank. To be fair, it’s hard to represent brewing to a mainstream audience because the process is probably not something they’re really familiar with. It’s visually difficult. The important thing is that the continuity carries through to allow the tagline to assert that “every medium has its master.”
It also manages not to be explicitly exclusive of rural markets. Doing something well is universal. A subsequent commercial could easily focus on rural artisans.
Not only is it clever because of the assertion that brewing is art, which is being drilled into the public consciousness, it manages to rebrand the product. I don’t see the word “Microcarbonated” in there anywhere, do you? I’ll tell you why that is. The general public cares less about microcarbonation than the honey badger, who, as we all know, is preternaturally unconcerned. If you didn’t know about this brand, you would think, based on this commercial that M stands for “Master” because of the fading text at the end.
Is brewing art? Yes, it is. Is Jonathan Lowes a master of that art? I don’t know. I’ve never heard of him before. You don’t get to be a head brewer at Molson by being a chump. Let’s assume that anyone who can perform that job has a lot of training and is significantly talented. It would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. He almost certainly is. The question will always remain whether the product is art. Craft beer drinkers will certainly not think so. I do not think so, but I admire the mechanics behind it.
I don’t know if a mass produced thing can be considered art. Hotel room paintings are not a Manet original, but they fulfill the criteria of being cheerful and lending color to the room. Is the dichotomy that nags at me one of production? Is it the difference between an impressionist’s single canvas offering and a silk screened Warhol reproduction?
The important thing is that the commercial has forced me to ask questions and think about the product. It is assertive, but about the product, rather than the consumer. That is an improvement, and whoever came up with that campaign should probably be given a large bonus.