Let's take a closer look at that.
Here's a frame from the storyboard for the commercial idea presented to the Bud Light clients. Normal guy agrees to being "up for whatever" and finds himself in an over-sized outdoor Pac-Man game being pursued by life-sized, large-eyed video-game characters.
This sort of drama plays out so frequently in the advertising business that, outside those folks who will lose their jobs or see their careers sink, hardly anyone notices. But there is an important learning opportunity here.
Mad Men do what Mad Men do
Then, off the cliff together went the agency and client folks. And when the ad failed to move the business, the agency folks plummeted end-over-end as their agency assignment was pulled. Of course the client folks had parachutes, and looked forward to lunch meetings with a Big Apple agency, and finding a real big idea.
Beer marketers routinely challenge their agencies for "big ideas." And so they should. But ask many of those clients how they define that term or where those ideas originate, and you're not likely to get much direction. We, on the other hand, are happy to oblige.
Big advertising ideas are those that make lots of people want to reach for the brand. And what prompts that desire to buy is not flimflam like choosing Pac Man over pinball. It is a consequential product fact at the very center of the advertising strategy. A factual insight with the power to stick in a person's consciousness, and pop up just when beer's about to be bought.
This nugget of provocative truth about the brand is never an accident. It will be debated, articulated, refined, melted down to its core, understood, and agreed upon, well before any storyboard-drawing begins. Research will be helpful, but creative conjuring will be even more consequential. Maybe most of all, the client folks will not just sign-off on this strategic center, they will personally own it. They'll bet their careers on it. No parachutes.
Now, can you spot that sort of insight in the Bud Light Pac-Man ad? Can you point to any provocative brand fact in the entire Bud Light "up for whatever" campaign? Any reason to choose Bud Light?
Michelob has its low-carb platform. Budweiser's "Brewed the hard way" campaign focuses on a series of provocative facts.
But all Bud Light gets is... whatever.
And no matter what anyone tells you, that's no big idea.