It's possible that you've already seen this. It has been making the rounds in social media.
And even if you have seen it, it's unlikely that (a) you caught all the words, or that (b) you looked at it through the lens of brand.
And (c) you certainly never thought about it in the context of your own brand. Who would?
This gift comes in the form of a spec commercial for Johnnie Walker.
The title of the commercial is, "Dear Brother." Before we look at this masterpiece together, a little backstory...
If you've been at all cognizant of the Johnnie Walker branding campaign over the last 16 years, you know about the long-running "Keep Walking" theme of the messages.
IT'S A LONG ROAD FROM THE PEAT BOGS, LADDIE
Possibly the most well-known of the "Keep Walking" commercials is the near 6-minute epic featuring Glaswegian actor Robert Carlyle, whom you might remember from The Full Monty and Trainspotting.
In a foggy highland landscape, a bagpiper plays a mournful tune as Mr. Carlyle walks down from the high road. He reaches the bagpiper, says, "Piper! Shut it!", and continues walking while relating the story of Mr. John Walker.
Over a single, five-and-a-half-minute take, Carlyle recounts 200 years of Johnnie Walker history while all sorts of incongruous props and set pieces appear along the way.
It's a very nice piece of filmmaking, and is part of a long-running campaign that grew the company's sales based on the notion of personal progress. (What one way do you want your customer to feel about your product?)
Now, if you're unfamiliar with the craft of the spec spot, it's a "speculative" piece of work that has never actually been sold to the advertiser. It has been conceived and executed on spec.
IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME IN RADIO
Account reps (usually ill-advisedly) whip out spec spots for prospective clients to whom they've never actually spoken about advertising.
(Yes, that is--and has been--a subject for an entirely different rant, and certainly not at Christmastime.)
Sometimes, ad agencies will produce spec spots in an effort to sell a client on a new direction.
And usually, advertising students will build a portfolio of spec advertising work so they can get a job when they graduate.
After all, when you've never actually be hired to do the work, you must do something to showcase your talents.
And that latter example is what we have here.
THESE GERMAN LADS HAVE LATCHED ONTO "KEEP WALKING" AS A PLACE TO HANG THEIR SPEC HAT
And boy, do these guys raise the bar on creating student spec work.
It's hard to know how much money they actually spent doing this, but it certainly cost much less than Johnnie Walker would have spent making it--and it looks every bit as slick as anything to come out of a major advertising agency.
In fact, when I said to The Fabulous Honey Parker, "Look at this," and clicked the play button, she stood there in silence for a minute and a half, and then said, "Wow."
As a woman who was the youngest VP Creative ever at the world's biggest ad agency, she is not easily impressed.
This commercial is impressive.
Here now, the gift from German students Dorian Lebherz and Daniel Titz...
AYE, PUT THAT IN YOUR DISTILLERY'S BURNING KILN AND SMOKE IT!
If you didn't catch the entirety of the VO, here it is:
Walking the roads of our youth
Through the land of our childhood, our home, and our truth
Be near me, guide me, always stay beside me
So I can be free
Let's roam this place, familiar and vast
Our playground of green frames our past
We were wanderers
When every place was fenceless
And time was endless
Our ways were always the same
Call my demons and walk with me, my brother
Until our roads lead us away from each other
And if your heart's full of sorrow, keep walking
And promise me from heart to chest to never let your memories die
I will always be alive and by your side
In your mind
ART IN SUPPORT OF BRAND
It's really very difficult to sell a product like whiskey using a features/benefits model.
And certainly, plenty of direct response dogs will tell you that this commercial is crap.
And we will happily discuss why.
We've gone on long enough, and you certainly have better things to do this morning.
Christmas is coming. Share "childhood," "home" and "truth" with those who matter.
Cheers to you and yours.
Even if Christmas means taking the whole mishpucha to the movies and eating Chinese food.
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.