I Finally Watched Gawker’s “Viral” Newcastle Non-Ad, Ad

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Toby Keller via

Ok, this was a flop. As of today, February 5th, the ad had received a total of 23,783 hits. I’m not exactly the profit leader on TC but my article on the Ukraine last week got half that…and it was about Ukraine. A better comparison on Gawker’s own site is an article calling Thomas Friedman a dumbass for 300 words (half of which was quotations). It’s gotten over 63,000 hits since yesterday. We’ll call that 1:3. That’s a pretty rough ratio given how boring Friedman actually is and that’s phenomenally bad seeing as the ad’s been up since January 28th and nailed to the Gawker homepage that entire time.

No one should do this anymore. The making of, behind the scenes, and focus group videos were all terrible ideas that could only serve to actually hurt Newcastle’s brand. The primary purpose of beer ads is A) to remind you they exist and B) to introduce some aspirational feelies into your brain and give you a fantasy experience you want to live. The latest movement in branding is providing an aspirational message via an exclusivity scenario that’s non-brandish. So, in this case, Newcastle is selling us a kind of little joke delivered to you ironically by Gawker’s copywriter because the paid writers can’t actually take money from the companies paying Gawker ad money. Except I have no idea how Gawker’s owner could possibly pay his writers if he wasn’t paying them with money from ads but whatever. Maybe they get paid in Bitcoins. Here’s Gawker’s advertising page.

To the point, did this ad do it for me in terms of making me think that I’m the kind of guy who gets funny ironic advertisements and then goes out and drinks Newcastle with my other asshole exclusive friends? I mean, no, obviously. There’s nothing to latch onto in the ad except the idea of a beer commercial which just isn’t funny. Apologies to Anna Kendrick, she did what she was asked, but the format is completely ‘who cares’ and cannot have the kind of impact that Newcastle was likely hoping for. You have to make the audience want more if they’re going to engage in the aspirational. That’s why tits and bikinis have historically worked well but Newcastle can’t do that. They’re English and old and they have to come with something that actually entertains while integrating their product.

So, you rip off the Onion, replace the Silver Bullet Express with a locomotive powered by Brown Ale in a seeming attempt for Newcastle to ape the competition and you have it all go horribly wrong. Meanwhile, you have two English ladies off to the side having a Newcastle and saying something like “don’t mess with perfection” or some such other colonial drivel. Or you make the commercials the story of an engineer trying to get the “Newcastle Express” just right. Or, or literally anything besides what they did.

There, hilarious. You tweak that a little and you have an ad that’s every bit as edgy meets traditional as any of the Jameson’s Irish Whiskey ads which have all be amazing.

If you’re not a highly popular brand then selling yourself is all about giving people a story they can enjoy and look forward to seeing more of. They want to attach something to you. In the case of Newcastle, American drinkers also need to feel like the brand is approachable and being lighthearted is the definition of approachable. Besides, how many times can Newcastle talk about how they’re too poor to make a commercial? Once. Unfortunately, people may remember this “non-commercial” but very few of those people will likely remember Newcastle. Gawker, you should have rescued them from this because Newcastle is good beer.

Now, please tell me why I’m wrong. Are you drinking Newcastle now? Have any desire to?

P.S. Apologies to Stephanie Georgopulos, I know it’s not your fault. TC mark

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