Faculty | Mar 09, 2016 | Gabelli School of Business
‘Stay thirsty’ no more: Malefyt discusses Dos Equis marketing
Forget the presidential campaign. The most interesting news of the day is that The Most Interesting Man in the World will no longer be telling us to “stay thirsty.”
Dos Equis’ long-running advertising campaign – featuring the breathtakingly debonair “most interesting man,” played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith – is coming to an end in a most spectacular fashion: He’s taking a one-way trip to Mars. Dos Equis said a new version of the campaign, with a new actor, is coming.
Why walk away from someone whose “amazingness” has inspired legions of Internet memes? Isn’t Dos Equis, a Mexican beer whose name and bottle is now on everyone’s lips, taking a big risk in blasting off Goldsmith?
We asked those questions of Timothy Malefyt, a clinical associate professor of marketing at the Gabelli School of Business who has worked at BBDO Worldwide and once helped generate insights for the successful relaunch of the Cadillac automobile brand.
Storytelling and playfulness, he said, had a lot to do with the campaign’s effectiveness. Continuing those features in whatever new campaign is coming will be a key to success.
Q. Why do you think “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign worked for Dos Equis?
A. I think it tells a very intriguing story. Brands that are really in your face and just talking to you – people don’t want to hear that anymore. But this is a brand that engages you. You are following this guy. It’s so over the top, in a way. It winks to you. It’s incredulous, almost. You want to follow his exploits. Every version of the commercial talks about some sort of an exploit. I think that very much appeals to millennials. And that’s where I guess is a lot of their growth, among millennials.
Q. If it’s working, why change? Is there a marketing theory behind changing or rebooting campaigns?
A. I think so. This [campaign] has not changed for a long time. The fact that it’s [been] nine, 10 years is amazingly long. They were surprised of the success of this. All brands need to reboot. There’s a wear-out effect after a while. Coca-Cola and Gillette – you revisit a line and people get tired of it. It kind of loses its meaning, so you have to look for new ways to express that theme in a more compelling form of engagement.
Q. What are the dangers of rebooting the campaign?
A. If they miss the initial draw of this. And I think that it’s this tongue-in-cheek kind of cleverness, the kitchiness, the fourth wall that’s talking back to you kind of with a wink. If they miss that humor. I think a lot of brands, especially for younger people, need to have this kind of humor. Otherwise, if a brand takes itself too seriously, it risks being ridiculous and would drop off right away. I think the next campaign has to be clever as well, and the risk is, can they keep that up?
Q. What is the best way of handling a reboot to give a campaign the best chance at success?
A. My question will be: How far will the refresh go? That’s a question of creative judgment … I’ll be curious to see where they’ll go: what components of the old they’ll keep and how much they’ll redo.