Remember when beer ads were entertaining?

Talking about television advertisements may seem like a strange place to kick off a blog about Victorian beer but I hope to make this blog a bit different from the usual.

While I may not be the greatest fan of most things that come out of Fosters I do generally appreciate their ads.  As a matter of fact I have always been a fan of beer ads, even as a kiddie.  ( I know it’s pathetic but I needed some excuse to include this old XXXX ad.  The King!  That’s Wally Lewis not Wayne Carey.)

Now sing along with me:

I can feel a XXXX coming on

I can feel a XXXX coming on

Got the taste for it

Just can’t wait for it

I can feel a XXXX coming on.

Yes it may be a crap beer but they have always managed to tap into the parochial nature of Queenslanders.  You were made to feel like a traitor to your state if you drank anything else.

Despite being Victoria’s bitter VB’s ads have always tried to encapsulate a more pan-Australian ethos.  Although it must be noted that it was one that rarely included women other than as the presenters of frosty cold ones to their husbands or patrons across the bar.

When John Meillon wasn’t at the Oaks in Neutral Bay, holding up the bar that now carries his name, he was telling the nation how a hard earned thirst was best sorted out by a long cold Vic.

For decades John read out the rhymes that could have been written by the kids of the ad agency’s creative director and we all thought of beer.  Riding or sliding = beer.  Walking or talking = beer. Taking a bow or feeding a cow = beer.

But then in 1989 John upped and left us for that great happy hour in the sky.  The ads continued with his son, John Jr, voicing them for awhile and then computer technology caught up and they were able to manipulate old John’s recordings to produce some new ads.  Eventually these were dropped and Aussie character actor Richard Carter stepped into the role.  Richard’s voice is very similar to John’s but near enough was not good enough.

Times have changed and beer ads have now become events.  George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne set the bar high with their Carlton Draught ads including A Big Ad (2005) and Flashbeer (2006) and followed it up with the fantastic VB Orchestra in 2007.  Of course in the sane and logical world of corporate Australia they were then given the arse by Fosters.  Clemenger BBDO Melbourne got the Carlton account and their stuff has been OK, sort of, and VB went to Droga 5 in Sydney.

You might remember the Raise A Glass campaign from around ANZAC Day this year which was Droga 5’s first VB work.  The ads featured some nice old blokes talking about mates that they had lost and how they remembered them with a beer. Fosters pledged to give a “percentage” to the RSL and Legacy.  According to their website the final amount was $1.1 million. The cynics at Crikey and All Ale The Big V questioned how appropriate it was to try and make money out of combining respect for the fallen and alcohol consumption.  The argument some may put forward is that it was assisting a charity.  If Fosters was so keen to do that then perhaps a simple donation may have been more appropriate.

I was prepared to forgive Droga 5 for the Raise A Glass campaign but then came the much hyped new ad The Regulars.

For all of the talk that proceeded this production I was expecting something that would be on par with the George Patterson Y&R ads but what we got falls well short.  I chuckled as the groups went along but there was nothing there that will make me remember it in 10 years time.  It takes the piss well, even if it does border on meanness, but that’s about all it does.  I think they might have fallen into the Waterworld trap. Just because it costs a lot of money doesn’t mean it will necessarily be any good.

And what was with Laurie Daly being featured in one of the last shots?  Does anybody outside of Queensland or NSW even know who he is?  Wouldn’t it have been better to use a cricketer?

I wonder where they will go from here?  Anybody else think that the next round of ads, whenever Fosters can afford to pay for them, might be a bit more boutique?

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