Magazine article ADWEEK

All in the Timing: BBDO Channels Larry David in Sierra Mist Series

Magazine article ADWEEK

All in the Timing: BBDO Channels Larry David in Sierra Mist Series

Article excerpt

These new Sierra Mist spots (two of which debuted on the Oscars) are based on a delightful premise: Cast a group of diverse improv comics (here they're called the "Mist-takes"), place them in Sierra-centric situations, and let 'em riff.

The troupe is deftly put together--three are former MADtv-ers, and the entire crew will seem familiar to people (like me) who watch way too much television. I got a particular kick out of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." It stars Michael Ian Black (Ed, Best Week Ever), the boy-king of all deadpan humor (and, let it not be forgotten, the original voice of the Pets.com Sock Puppet), and Jim Gaffigan, aka the blonde guy with glasses who was also on Ed and has been in countless commercials. They're shown at a reception, where they reach for the same bottle of Siena Mist on ice. They try being polite ("You," "No, you"), but then Black suggests rock, paper, scissors--a route that always seems to get boys' competitive juices flowing. It's not exactly a Solomonic solution to begin with, but then the loser, Gaffigan, cheats by coming up with a lame, absurd explanation for why his paper beats Black's scissors: "Water makes the scissors rusty, and they crumble and break, and then the paper scoops it up."

The scene comes off as spontaneous and funny. It's also affecting, because in the end it suggests that the citrus-y stuff is worth fighting (and lying) for. But it held special meaning for me, as, even at my advanced age, I can't get past the fact that paper covers rock. Who came up with this? If rock can smash scissors, why can't it burst right though paper? No matter how many boys have tried to explain it to me over the years, I still don't get it, and as you can see, I remain endlessly annoyed (and annoying) on the subject.

But that's what Seinfeld did: It took observational trivialities, little pieces of nothing, and made them something. Even after being off the air for almost seven years, Seinfeld has remained the default mother tongue of comedy in our culture. Its influence extends to this campaign as well. Ill "Kitchen," the joke is that alter a party, Black and Nicole Sullivan (who was fabulous as Holly the dog walker in The King Of Queens) want to take their unused three-liter bottle of Sierra Mist back, and the hostess, the very cool Debra Wilson, tells them she's heard of "regifting" but not "ungifting."

The structure of the spots, though, is more Curb Your Enthusiasm, the HBO show that Larry David went on to write, produce and star in. The improvised nature of CYE--the actors are given scene outlines, and they allegedly improvise lines as they go--was a radical innovation, but apparently Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress is being done the same way, and like all successful comedy, the process has now filtered into advertising. …

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