Advertising’s “Vampire Effect” Be Damned

Advertising’s “Vampire Effect” Be Damned

In this guest post, the Tall Planners, Kate Smither (pictured below), admits to being mesmerised by Daniel Craig’s recent work for Belvedere Vodka (read B&T’s reporting HERE) and, she says, it’s a perfect example of advertising’s “vampire effect”…

A dancing Daniel Craig is both oddly mesmerising, sometimes a bit awkward, certainly silly and surprisingly even a bit sexy. It is also brilliantly brave of the brand, and the actor to do it.

Not because it exposes both to all sorts of ridicule and criticism but because for the brand it has to be ok with not being the star of the show And for most marketers that is completely counter intuitive. It’s brave because Belvedere had to be ok with being vampired.

The vampire effect is defined as when “In an attempt to stand out from other advertising messages, marketers take the risk of getting trapped into the so-called vampire effect of their own advertising campaigns: tools for getting attention “suck” customer attention away from core messages of the advertisement. “ .

Watching a dancing Daniel Craig arguably does vampire Belvedere, he is really only linked to category remotely through a character that puts another wall between audience and product, that of James Bond. You  realise it’s Daniel Craig, you then think Bond, then you think “he’s dancing” and all that happens a long way before you get to Belvedere vodka. That’s the risk of the vampire effect, you to let go immediate associations

But Belvedere let them go for all the right reasons.

Braver still. Belvedere let the film for their vodka echo and mimic scenes from other brands both Kenzo, Johnnie Waler’s The Gentlemen’s Wager with Jude Law and Fat boy slam’s famous Christopher Walker video are all referenced in mood, moves and memory structures

Yet Belevdere seem to let Taika Waititi as director, fully embrace the borrowed cultural bits and pieces and put them together unashamedly. Both director and star seemed (to be honest) to just have a lot of fun with it

And really that is probably the bravest of all, the brand, the director and the star all just letting their guard down and revelling in making it

For a category that often takes itself too seriously they broke every rule.

Strangely enough, dance is often the shortcut to breaking conventions and challenging stereotypes or societal norms

There is a ritual and cultural significance to dance and its ability to tell stories. There always has been. And advertising seems to be to access, provoke and promote  cultural change through it. It’s an entertaining and powerful way to draw attention to brand and bias at the same time. That because we think we know the story and the convention it is showing.

But part of the power of dance is the way is it can twist the expectations you bring to it

Apple iPhone did it with First Dance in 2018 when it broke the expected and traditional wedding dance moment and celebrated same sex wedding first dances, The NFL did it with the Super Bowl spot where professional players recreated the famous scene from Dirty Dancing challenging the conventions of celebration, football and masculinity all in one magical lift.  Locally beer brands have embraced dance as a chance to have fun with category and social conventions. Two examples come to mind, Flash beer and Speights in NZ. Both playing off iconic film scenes (Flash Dance and Footloose respectively) to start new conversations for brands and audiences about stereotypes, advertising tropes and society.

The thing about all these examples, Belvedere and Daniel Craig included is the power of the unexpected. They all intercept our expectations and break with what we define as the familiar

That’s the bravery of them, they’re not afraid to make people feel a bit surprised and to break with their own brand DNA. They are not playing off distinctive brand assets, nor are they building them. Sure you can argue the art deco cabinet, the cut glass, the tumbler are all cues of Vodka in the case of the Daniel Craig film, but they are cues of category not of Belvedere uniquely.

Kenzo didn’t even have these standard cues. They took usually refined, high end feminine codes  and gave them a bit of a gangster edge. The collapsing of codes works in both cases, Kenzo and Belvedere partly because whilst it is not immediately brand linked it is so disruptive it gains memorability in a totally different way. One gave the category  a bit of an edge and attitude, the other gave the stiffness a d bit of celebratory silliness. Both were a relief from the norms that usually restrict rather than liberate.

With one fabulous dancing Daniel Craig, Belvedere has shown that letting your brand be joyously vampired is not necessarily a bad thing.  People probably say “have you seen the dancing Daniel Craig” rather than have you seen the “Belvedere ad” but either way, they are still using the pull of one to get the other noticed.  And they’re have a wonderful amount of fun doing it and have completely given into every possible vampirable moment with gusto.

The saying goes that isn’t not brave if you’re not s cared and I’m sure that this petrified some Belvedere marketers…possibly even momentarily rattles the star but in this case, brave is just bloody good, not scary at all.




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Belvedere Vodka Kate Smither

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