Back To The Future - No, Seriously, Go Back.

To: Nestle and Ogilvy & Mather, Paris

From: the early 1990s

We want our commercial back.

Yeah, thanks for "The Drop." It's pretty spectacular. What a fantastic idea -- to spend a couple of million dollars to send the hottest babe ever into outer space to extinguish a star threatening to destroy Earth. Congratulations for racking up almost 5 million YouTube views in only three months. What did that cost you, after the production and seeding costs are factored in… about $1 a view? Nice!

But please return it to our decade, where it belongs.

Of course you must have been pretty happy about all the breathless commentary on John Renck's direction, especially all the references to "2001: A Space Odyssey." Absolutely -- this commercial is exactly like Kubrick's movie, just as Dora the Explorer is exactly like "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

Not to fault you on your premise either. It’s a very thoughtful commentary on climate change, what with the whole world -- even India and Japan -- sweltering under the oppressive heat to the point that newspapers spontaneously catch fire. (Just curious -- in 2012, do you still have newspapers?) Anyway, although we're from 20 years ago, it's not like we haven't heard of global warming. We suspect our new vice president will weigh in on this before long -- ozone layer, melting ice caps, greenhouse gases, blah, blah, blah. But the liquifying lipstick! Nobody saw that one coming. Who knew the stakes would be so high?

You know what we liked the most? How tight the gold lame spacesuit was on that 20-year-old shapely-ass-tronaut dispatched by France to save humanity. Because obviously fashion models are undervalued by the rest of western society, but also because runway hip-swinging is just the thing to make people thirsty for bottled water. I mean, implied fantasy sex will work very soon for Axe -- why wouldn’t it work for water shipped at great expense to foreign countries? Who doesn’t want sexy water?

It's just that we think these things are of a certain time and place. Like Sir Mix A-Lot and the mullet. Why did you feel the need to reach back into our world? This was just sooooooo us.

For instance, unlike the gullible foreigner characters in the ad, we didn’t flinch when Astro Girl drank -- or fellated -- all the Perrier instead of extinguishing a two-nonillion-kilogram sun with a liter of spring water. We felt certain that anyone who could navigate the Jetsons' space car to the center of the solar system without going all lipsticarus had a trick up her sleeve. Yep, the spot's title tipped Perrier's hand. “The Drop” -- as in one drop of water douses the sun.

Because unimaginably vast gaseous fireballs may be hot, but not as smokin’ hot as this babe. And one drop of residual moisture from those ruby-red lips can quench the thirstiest star, not counting your Charlie Sheen.

From our perspective, this is a surefire Cannes Lion winner. A surefire 1992 Cannes Lion winner.

The reason for the memo, though, is…. well, is that how you really want to market Perrier in 2012? With a commercial? A sexually objectifying fantasy? A multimillion production budget? For fewer online views than you’d get for one airing on a below-average sitcom? Using an actual global crisis that actually threatens humanity to sell bottled water, whose carbon footprint after international shipping is God-knows-what?

Have you not been informed that nobody is too impressed with advertising in your era? We have an expression where we are. We haven't heard of Monica Lewinsky yet, but we do have fond memories of the Fonz. And you have jumped the shark. We strongly suspect this will be the moment, looking back from the perspective of 2032, that advertising will be remembered as having entirely lost any sense of proportion or connection to actual people. In fact, our best guess is that your ad will insult more people than it impresses.

The YouTube comments are pretty horrifying, we must say.

Just one more question. What's YouTube?

3 comments about "Back To The Future - No, Seriously, Go Back.".
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  1. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, August 6, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.

    Bob, relax. Have a drink of water. I'm worried about you :-)

    I had nothing to do with this commercial, and I don't particularly wish I wrote it. But... what are we getting worked up about here? It's a fashion commercial for French water. This actually makes sense. Nothing differentiates this water from any other; a rational appeal won't work. In a Porter's 5 Forces analysis the threat of substitution -- water from your own tap -- is *far* cheaper and easier to obtain than a bottle of Perrier.

    Lastly, the only thing sillier than judging advertising by focus groups is judging it by YouTube comments.

  2. Lubin Bisson from Qzedia Media Inc, August 6, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.

    Bob - Thanks for all the good stuff in the past. This piece won't be remembered in the future.... Not in 2032, nor even sometime in the future, like later this month. In fact, what is the connection to actual people in August 2012 with your memories of the Fonz? Or does he have some other place in the sun that I'm missing out on here...?

  3. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., August 6, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.

    Oh, come on, Bob! Who knows what it cost or cares? It does have a message, that Perrier quenches thirst (and presumably, fire as well). My memories of Perrier go back four decades, when I first went to Paris. At the end of the evening, right before closing, I saw countless Parisian men order a small glass with about a half-inch of creme de menthe along with a small bottle of Perrier. They would fill the glass with Perrier and drink the minty liquid, topping it off until the Perrier was gone. I didn't speak French, but I was guessing this was intended as a way to disguise the alcohol on their breath. To this day, whenever I see Perrier, I am reminded of those nights in Paris. And it's a good memory. If Nestle wants to waste its money this way, I guess that's its prerogative. Could have been funnier, had she shaken the bottle, then sprayed the water on the burning star. But that would have invited a different sexual double entendre. The video did, at least, dramatize the benefit: Perrier quenches (thirst and fire). Quite a lot of commercials today don't even do that!

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