The new Most Interesting Man is a bore

French actor Augustin Legrand is the new ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’

I don’t often criticize other people’s creative, but when I do it’s because a brand has decided to ruin a much-loved campaign.

Seriously, why did the creative minds behind one of the best ad campaigns of the past decade – Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” — decide to gut its soul?

Seventy-seven year-old Jonathan Goldsmith’s “Most Interesting Man” was your quirky, traveled uncle or grandfather. It was never enough that he was seated in a tux with two supermodels; he had them – and us - rapt in his legendary tales of adventure. That was the point: They were tales, right? Or, maybe they weren’t. This was a beer commercial, and when males drink beer, they tell stories. And when they drink beer with their friends, these stories might become somewhat embellished on their way to becoming legends.

At the very least, we’ll try to make them interesting. Last night’s banal and maybe even boring effort with a few friends who all got shot down by girls at the bar might become this epic story over time that makes us all laugh at ourselves.

That was the actual point. We were all laughing, even the Tibetan monks and Far Eastern royalty who bade him farewell in that last creative. And it was important not only that The Most Interesting Man in the World’s stories couldn’t possibly all be true; but that we sort of had to believe they all were because, after all, there he was, with those characters and, yes, the girls now. Right? He was laughing at us, we were laughing at him, and his sardonic gaze as he delivered the tagline “Stay thirsty, my friends” had to be executed with a gravitas that closed the sale on the irony. It was a perfect and perfectly quirky branding vehicle for a quirky beer that comes from Mexico but doesn’t resemble any other Mexican beer.

Reaching New Audiences

After it sent Goldsmith into space and introduced its new, Most Interesting Man, Dos Equis announced that it was attempting to reach new, younger audiences, tailor the spots to Spanish-speaking beer drinkers, and be “more authentic” since millennial audiences, according to the brand’s research, prefer more authenticity.

I guess that’s why Dos Equis chose a French actor who sounds French and does nothing particularly interesting in any of the ads. Each of these shows him doing something silly in his flashbacks, not impressive. And the most recent creative, which features him kicking a football he fashions from a coconut between giraffe goal posts is just silly. Granted, Dos Equis clearly tailored it for its large buy during NCAA college football games. But, do we need to hear that the Most Interesting Man played college football?

That’s not terribly interesting.

Sales increases are, though. And Goldsmith’s Most Interesting Man drove some impressive gains for Heineken-owned Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, which brews Dos Equis. According to data the company released, sales of Dos Equis in the U.S. increased each year between the years 2006 and 2010. In 2008, sales actually tripled in Canada, a country that clearly appreciates its irony. The U.S. sales increase of 22 percent during 2008 was particularly impressive considering that the sale of other imported beers fell four points that year in the U.S.

Time will tell if today’s Most Interesting Man can sustain the brand’s growth and sell beer. This much is clear, however. Guys won’t be laughing at YouTube videos of today’s Most Interesting Man at anything close to the rate they used to. Each of Goldsmith’s creative depictions has millions of views on YouTube. Any man below a certain age has been forwarded these by friends. You’d be hard pressed to find numbers within a tenth of his from the new campaign.

Here’s hoping the folks at Heineken, who judge social performance judiciously and make smart TV buying decisions based on what they see online, will get the joke.

Greg Ricciardi is president and CEO of Philadelphia-based creative brand agency 20nine

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