Stella Artois | She is a Thing of Beauty
an ad review by Joshua P. Ferguson
Though Madmen will roll their eyes at us for beginning with an advertising truism straight out of Advertising for Dummies but, for the purposes of The Allure (a series of advertising critiques we're beginning), we'd like to start by making the following statement: Advertising is at it's most effective when it makes an emotional connection with it's audience. Duh right? Well, if you've spent an hour watching prime time television or flipping through popular magazines any time in the last, oh, ten years, then you're probably all too aware that this is not always the case. There are rare occasions, like those all-to-seldom instances when a song on the radio actually blows you away and suddenly you have a new favorite band, when an ad campaign actually makes you chuckle, reflect or, dare we say it, entice you into becoming a loyal customer.
We at Dialogue Inc make little secret our passion for quality advertising—a field we hope to enter one day—so we're launching The Allure as a way of documenting ads we think really do justice to the profession and its glorious roots in the tenets of capitalism. Yes, we said it, capitalism. When it functions properly, we think it's a beautiful thing. Capitalism—for better or worse—has a direct hand in many facets of popular culture, from music to movies to fashion to graphic design, and many of the other artistic movements we so adore. Of course, it's all personal expression, but a paid artist is all the more likely to continue producing that which we love him or her for. And yes, it may be tough to imagine a product like Stella Artois as a work of art (about as difficult as it might be to see the beer as a beautiful woman—which is what this critique will explore), the brew is a pillar of quality craftsmanship, and this most recent ad campaign, "She is a Thing of Beauty," gives it just the sort of voice it deserves.
Stella, for whatever reason, has incredibly prominent advertising in Chicago. What started as billboards educating on "the ritual" that accompanies enjoying a Stella (in nine steps no less) has morphed in the last month into "She is a Thing of Beauty," a print and TV campaign that gets us every time. It's premise is simple: Stella, like the finer sex, is a beautiful thing.
And in our favorite TV commercial in the campaign (below), based on a vintage radio drama, the implication is that Stella—and it's iconic goblet—is in fact the drama's female protagonist. It's a genius of implied metaphor, advertising gold.
"It was late..." the dialogue on the program begins. The bartender at a hole in the wall bar, presumably in Europe, has just tuned into a soap opera-like radio drama. The partons, snapping to attention as our female lead "slammed the door," are now fully engrossed in her every move, which plays out in tandem with the bartender pouring himself a frothy pint.
Her footsteps are realized as glasses being set down on the bar, her tilted head is the beer being poured. Then she sheds a single tear of remorse—the condensation from the glass's chill dripping down it's side—as she confesses to the men at the bar, so enamored with her (Stella's) beauty, that her heart belongs to another. Alas.
Thankfully in the life of a beer, and not in the life of a lover lost, we can always order another. And with Stella that's not a decision to weigh too heavily. Barkeep, one more round please! We can't speak for everyone at the bar, but with our beer, as with our lady friends, we want them to be a thing of desire.
In our search for this ad, we actually stumbled on other works of genius from Stella's ad team at Mother London that are riffing off the same concept. We're not sure if our "Radio Drama" is Mother London's work, but these lovelies (below) are: