Before answering that question--and because it's just so much fun to watch--here's a 3-minute compilation of the original ad campaign's magic...
Traditional masculinity, the dominant theme: Once a common appeal in beer ads, but out of favor in recent years, portrayals of traditional masculinity--from cowboys to retired athletes--have been a powerful beer-selling device for a long time. Zigging when others all zagged away from machismo, Dos Equis' "most interesting man" could easily be seen as the most masculine man in the world, his every improbable manly contest, a win of epic proportions. What guy wouldn't want some of that?
Category-benefit focus: In a similar way, "social acceptance" has been a key emotional benefit associated with beer consumption. "This beer will make you attractive to women," being a common, though indirectly made, promise to young men through the years. The final frames of the Dos Equis ads always featured adoration of the most interesting man by more than one beautiful woman. That's the benefit promise on film. Most interesting, indeed.
Unexpected "sparkle:" Hardest of all to define, executional "sparkle" is the creativity variable that can make a brand stand out among the hundreds of other beer ads. It's all too rare in beer ads these days. In Dos Equis' case, the unusual choice of an older gentlemen as spokesperson for a younger-targeted brand, is one part. Another is his resumé of über-macho accomplishments, every one rendered with delightfully outlandish copy. "He's a lover not a fighter, but he's also a fighter. So don't get any ideas." Finally, the mixture of "old" and new film stood out. Taken together, all of it made for an unlike-any-other presentation. No beer ad ever looked or sounded like these.
Only a very small dash of product distinctiveness: A product fact shared by every imported beer brand is its country-of-origin. While nowhere near a focus in these ads, the "two x-s" Mexican brand name provides a hint of that distinctiveness. (Some provocative fact about the beer itself would've been so much better.)
Of course, all good things must come to an end, so after announcing their new guy, Dos Equis recently presented the first of its most-interesting-man ads featuring him. We no longer have to wonder if lightning will strike twice for Dos Equis; we can decide for ourselves. (Spoiler: It didn't.)
Here's one of the new ads...
Let's look at how this new ad performs against the four keys that made the original ads so powerful:
The role of traditional masculinity has been softened quite a bit. Gone are the depictions of über-masculine arm-wrestling and bear- wrestling. In their place we get field-goal kicking of a coconut through giraffes. Could this sort of less remarkable feat be the new definition of macho? Doubtful.
Social acceptance in the form of adulation by women is gone entirely. The replacement is a diversity-conscious crowd of fellow travelers, with women in generally equal roles to the men. More politically correct, sure, but it doesn't really stand out in the sea--some would say, swamp--of political correctness in beer ads these days. Many young guys will really miss those adoring women at the end of the old ads. We do, too.
Gone, too, are the portrayals of epic achievements from the past. These ads look more like ordinary beer ads. As to the greatest risk faced by the new ads, the most-interesting man himself seems somehow... diminished. The ads are not without some good points, but much of the sparkle is definitely missing.
The same small dash of product distinctiveness remains in the brand name. But that's it.
Overall, on every measure, there's just... less.
And as to magic? We said this about the one weakness we could find when we reviewed the original ads: "Too bad they didn't invest a bit more in the magic of their beer."
Live by the no-product-distinctiveness sword; die by that same sword.