When a Good Idea Fails | Design Review
In the realms of advertising and design, there are always ideas that fail, some miss the mark entirely and others are ahead of their time. A commercial that embodied the later, was “The Pure Experience” a Michelob Ultra Gold ad (view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXmlN9BAddg) that played during the 2019 SuperBowl. Many have derided this ad unfairly, it’s only failing is that it was designed for an audience that wasn’t ready for it yet.
Conceptually this spot merged the evolving genre of A.S.M.R (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) with beer. If you're not familiar with A.S.M.R, it’s the experience of having a tingling sensation in your spine or neck that radiates as a response to certain stimuli, in this case, sound. These type of videos have become increasingly popular on YouTube as a method for sleep and relaxation. Featuring a host who whispers or makes specific noises into a microphone, these videos are designed to elicit a pleasurable response from the viewer.
“The Pure Experience" features Zoe Kravitz, seated at a table in the middle of a rainforest coquettishly whispering dialog and creating a number of noises around the product. It is an extremely creative and modern take on the traditional "girl in a bikini on a mountain top" genre of beer ads. It takes that cliche and turns it into something that is artistically beautiful. From exquisite cinematography and luxurious sound to the design of the floating platform this commercial went above and beyond for its viewers, embodying true design exceptionalism.
For all of its creativity and forward thinking, this promo forgot one simple thing, its audience. Most of the wing eating, face painting people who scream at TVs during a game are probably not culturally evolved enough to understand the nuances of A.S.M.R. Sometimes as artists and influencers we can push too far and miss the mark entirely, however, in the case of “The Pure Experience” I think there could be a long term impact that erodes at the stereotype of the beer babe. The world needs more ads like this that elevate women rather than degrade them. While it may not have been a successful beer ad, it is a cultural harbinger of changing attitudes toward women.