Sunday, May 15, 2011

AiAA: Coors Light -- "Cold Challenge"

One of the benefits of avoiding almost any and all political discourse is that I was able to successfully ignore last week's ridiculous Republican-driven controversy over Common's appearance at the White House. Unfortunately, this non-story took attention away from a MUCH more newsworthy issue involving a rap artist in the waning days of his fame.

Ice Cube's evolution from gangsta rapper to family-friendly actor/director/producer is one of the more fascinating transitions in the recent history of entertainment. This is a man who rose to fame in the late 1980s with N.W.A. and famously attracted the attention of the FBI with incendiary tracks such as "F*** the Police". Cube went on to a successful solo career, but the misogyny, violence and rage contained within such seminal albums as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate and The Predator didn't exactly endear him to Middle America (or, at least not to the parents of the suburban kids who were excitedly scooping up Cube's CDs).

To his credit, Cube has successfully reconstructed his image over the past decade or so. He served as executive producer on the lucrative Barbershop and Are We There Yet? movie franchises, spinning them off into a pair of cable television series. Now, in his early 40s, Ice Cube has become positively cuddly -- lampooning his cartoonish tough guy persona in films like The Longshots and Lottery Ticket.

This is exactly what Ice Cube is doing in the above Coors Light commercial. So, why doesn't it work?

Well, on a personal level, it's still oddly jarring for me to see light beer commercials actively targeting African-Americans.* In my lifetime, the light beer companies never took their eyes off of their core demographics: working-class
white males and young white women hitting the club. Ten years ago, Coors Light aired a pair of spots with rapper/producer Dr. Dre, but scrapped the ad campaign fairly quickly.

* -- One could argue that Ice Cube's commercial appeal -- at the absolute apex of his rap career and not unlike most rappers from his era -- came mostly from white, well-to-do consumers. This Coors Light ad is clearly not after that audience.

Looking at it from the perspective of my mostly unused marketing degree from San Diego State University; the commercial clumsily stumbles from silly to Ludacris ludicrous. Ice Cube is just fine -- his scowl perfected, eyebrows perpetually arched in mock anger. But, who makes up his audience these days? Blacks or whites? Twenty-something fans who've never owned one of his albums or thirty-somethings who may have forgotten him?

Those muddled marketing waters still make a lot more sense when compared to Coors Light's "super cold" concept. In the pantheon of superfluous emphasis, "super cold" sits alongside
triple dog dare and the defense strenuously objects.


Carrie said...

Upon re-watching this, the most pressing question that arises for me is what "important papers" did Ice Cube bring to his meeting with a bottle of Coors Light?

thai said...

i don't think it's that bad. i think he's transitioned pretty well, as you mentioned, from his rapper persona to a more movie heavy persona and, equally importantly, being in some/enough not-aimed-exclusively-at-black-folks movies to offer him proper exposure to the markets you mentioned.

but i'm sure you'd rather restrict him to following the footsteps of fred williamson and billy dee williams, wouldn't you? you darn racist.

that mexican guy said...

I can't speak for Ice Cube but in MY house those important papers would be coasters for the cheap beer that's sitting at the conference table.

I think "important" is appropriate.

mathan said...

@Thai - In regards to shilling beverages aimed at an "urban" demographic, to quote fellow former Dr. Dre, Cube has "been there, done that."

Really Cam, Cube is pitching for an alcoholic beverage and nary a St. Ides mention?

I don't know who you are anymore.

Aaron C. said...

Dammit. Yes, that was a pretty egregious omission, Math.

In my defense, I pounded this out while the wife and boy were away and was really rushed to finish before they got home.

Juxtaposing the mid-1990s ads for malt liquor with these Charmin-soft spots for light beer would've been a kick for me.

For the rest of you: YouTube, people! St. Ides! Ice Cube!


SHough610 said...

I'm also surprised you didn't use this image:

Aaron C. said...

Now, I'm just mad at myself.

CrazyCanuck said...

After thinking about this post for a couple of days, and your passive-aggressive indignation about the whole thing, my reaction is still "Meh".

Having grown up seeing a thousand rock stars "sell out" for commercials and other quick opportunities for a buck, playing off of or against their long-held personas, I see this as simply a sad but impossible to resist part of our culture. They're going to do what they can to keep paying the alimony/drug habits/whatever. Rock just went through it earlier because they were around earlier.

As for the confused marketing messages, it's not much different than hearing "Revolution" for a shoe commercial. That sure didn't target the boomers who originally sang/garbled along to the song, and the younger set were probably wondering who the heck John Lennon was. Not to mention the irony/sadness of equating shoes with a societal revolution.

Or maybe we should just send the ad execs who came up with the super cold concept to Nunavut for a winter. At least we'd get a giggle out of that.