The American campaign for Dewar’s Scotch Whisky that has been around for the past year or so has been polarising. Fans find the sultry ads hilarious and cool; critics say they’re silly and ring false. (Business Insider ranked the campaign as one of the runner-up worst ads of 2013.)
The Bacardi-owned Scotch company recruited English actress Claire Forlani last year as a sexy spokesperson who could entice a younger crowd. The British media lampooned Forlani’s awful attempt at a Scottish accent in the ads, and pointed out that she even has a Scottish husband.
Dewar’s kept her for several ads, and now she returns alongside a new character, the Baron. The Baron is basically a sophomoric version of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World,” and his misogyny has offended plenty of people already. In this commercial, he intercepts a fat woman to “save” a friend. Dewar’s has made the ad private on YouTube, never a good sign.
Here it is, via Vimeo:
New York agency Opperman Weiss, behind the acclaimed Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey ad, created the Baron commercial, as well as all the others featuring Forlani.
When the campaign started, Dewar’s assumed the target audience of young American men might need to be coaxed into drinking Scotch, which they may associate with their grandfathers. The theme of the campaign was “irreverence, wit, and wisdom,” according to Dewar’s VP and Brand Managing Director Arvind Krishnan.
Guys like Fred Minnick, author of “Whiskey Women,” finds the Baron ad’s irreverence to be going too far. He admits that the ad probably would have appealed to him as a college kid, but despite its repulsiveness to him as a grown man, he thinks Dewar’s is being irresponsible: “If Daniel Tosh or Saturday Night Live made fun of large women, that is within their platform … The whisky brand is subject to laws and industry standards that dictate its ad content and target audiences.”
He wants the ad pulled for discriminating against women and obese people, as does a group of petitioners.
One of the petitioners drew attention to Dewar’s British “LIVE TRUE” campaign, which could not be more different from its American counterpart.
This ad, produced by Barcelona agency & Rosas, features the narration of a Charles Bukowski poem inspiring the reader to be true to himself or herself. Its protagonists are very much the anti-Barons:
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