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Campaign of the Week: The most interesting ad campaign in the world

By Kag Katumba 02 Nov, 2018
Campaign creative

It takes guts to make your brand stand out from competitors, so be different

In 2006, Dos Equis used a different ad campaign approach to selling beer. Instead of positioning their product as a must-have for getting the attention of attractive women, Dos Equis turned their beer into something that promoted distinction and curiosity.

What makes people buy? The best advertising campaigns are able to invoke an emotional response from consumers, connect, and engage with them at their core.

A product rarely achieves advertising success based solely on merit. The best marketing and ad campaigns psychologically and emotionally create a response in all of us. With the growth of the internet and social media, brands are constantly fighting over the attention of consumers. To make your product or brand stand out you must get creative, and that is exactly what Dos Equis did.


The play

It was created by EuroRSCG, now known as Havas Worldwide. Jeff Kling, the agency’s former chief creative officer, in a recent interview recalled a lengthy approval process before the agency got the first spot on air.

He remembers getting a last-minute call from a nervous Heineken executive. “I could hear the stress in his voice,” said Mr. Kling, who is now the chief creative officer at Fallon. He reassured the executive, “I guarantee you, if you run this work, it will kill it for you,” he recalled.

Mr. Kling, who created the campaign with then-EuroRSCG employees Karl Lieberman and Brandon Henderson, recalled that the idea came from “mocking the brief,” which described the target consumer in “ridiculously lofty and unrealistic terms that is fundamentally a fiction.” The resulting character, of course, was the “Most Interesting Man.”

The first ads, in radio, television and print, sport a latin-accented man of unending and ever-multiplying talents, and features clips of his history of derring-do, interviews and relations of his experiences, and a number of bits offering advice to those who would be interesting. The first video piece introduced the American audience to “TMIMITW” with a simple sequence of images from his life and a voiceover:

The decade

The originals were played by Jonathon Goldsmith and feature an older bearded, debonair gentleman. They also feature a montage (mostly in black and white) of daring exploits involving "the most interesting man" when he was younger, in which the character is played by actor Claudio Marangone.

The precise settings are never revealed, but he performs feats such as freeing an angry bear from a painful-looking bear trap, shooting a pool trick shot before an audience (by shooting the cue ball out of the mouth of a man lying on the pool table), catching a marlin while cavorting in a Hemingway-esque scene with a beautiful young woman, winning an arm-wrestling match in a South American setting, surfing a killer wave, and bench pressing two young women, each seated in a chair, in a casino setting.

The voiceovers themselves are intended to be both humorous and outrageous, and include humorous undertones such as his giving his own father "the talk", experiencing an awkward moment just to know how it felt, and finding the Fountain of Youth but not drinking from it, "because he wasn't thirsty". Other feats are more centered on his physical abilities and personality. These include his small talk changing foreign policies, parallel-parking a train, and slamming a revolving door.

At the end of the advertisement, the most interesting man, usually shown sitting in a night club or other social setting surrounded by several beautiful young women, says, "I don't always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." Each commercial ends with him stating the signature sign-off: "Stay thirsty, my friends."

There are secondary advertisements that are similar to the final part of the original advertisements. They feature the man sitting in a social setting, surrounded by beautiful young women, conveying a short opinion to the viewer on certain subjects, such as bar nuts, the two-party system, self-defense, trophy wives, and "bromance". He then finishes the advertisement by holding a Dos Equis beer and saying, "Stay thirsty, my friends."

The campaign belted through variations and the character was recast in 2016 before ending in 2018.

The success

The era, however, was as golden as the color of Dos Equis. In 2009, beer imported into the U.S. flagged significantly as craft beer took over, and sales fell about 4%. But not for Dos Equis. The now Heineken-owned brand shot up 22%, thanks in large part to the unbelievably successful campaign that set the benchmark to what it meant for an ad to go viral.

Strong results have continued and 2015 sales for the company’s Lager Especial had risen another 10%, with the total growth since 2007 is 34.8%. These are shockingly high numbers for any beer, and even more so when you consider the poor state of mass-market beer against craft breweries.

Besides sales, the most telling metric of success for the campaign was in the public’s willingness to not only tolerate the ads but to actively seek them out. Search YouTube for the ads, and you might not even see entries from Dos Equis or Euro RSCG, the marketing company responsible for the Man’s birth. Millions of people have simply loved, cataloged, searched, and watched these videos that represent a vibrant spirit of adventure–and that are just plain funny.

By Kag Katumba

I am the Marketing Executive at Smart Insights, heading up our Free Memberships and Content Partnerships. I've amassed 5 years of industry experience which keeps me on the pulse of all things marketing and digital. Feel free to connect with me at Linkedin

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