The spot starts with a shot of the classic Sprite can which morphs into the new can. A voiceover says, “Welcome to Sublymonal Advertising.” The voiceover and style sounds big-brotherish and may be familiar to computer games from the game title “Command & Conquer.” The spot then displays the words “Sublymonal Advertising.” The spot shifts to a huge greenhouse where a gardener with a backpack full of Sprite lymon and a squirt gun is watering the flowers. When they are hit with the limon they open up revealing mouths including lips and teeth and say “aaaahh.” Then the flowers start singing, “Time of the Season” by the Zombies. Intercut with this action are individual frame shots of “Obey” (familiar from the last campaign, ‘obey your thirst’), a rotating lemon with a school alarm bell ringing and eventually a lemon exploding, lemons and limes hitting a man in a tongue suit and another man cleaving through a lemon with a sword. Just as soon as it has begun the song and greenhouse scene end with a flicker of the words “Sublymonal Message Complete” (complemented by the voiceover saying ‘Sublymonal Advertising Complete), a corporate suit and the word “Obey.”
As we have come to expect from the creative work of Crispen, Porter+Bogusky, this is a visually arresting spot. The editing is jarring and disconcerting which also makes it mesmerizing. The spoofs of Orwellian advertising techniques from ’1984′ also do a nice job of keeping our attention focused on the ad. The branding is very good as the Sprite can makes an early appearance and is reinforced with the familiar “Obey” message as well as the constant appearance of lemons and limes. The focus on ‘Lymon’ is clearly meant to return Sprite to a focus on the taste benefit of lymon which in this case is competing more with colas than in the eighties when Lymon was created to counter a strong showing by the ‘un-cola’ 7-Up.
While we believe that rational and creative thought have gone into this spot, we have difficulty understanding the advertising strategy behind it or the brand positioning for Sprite. Sprite has magical properties, that is clear. Is it the antidote to the controlled, nightmarish society portrayed in the spot? Not likely. In fact, it appears to be the agent of control, the Soylent Green for this repressive regime. The most obvious clue is the simple play on words (Subliminal Advertising has been replaced by Sublymonal Advertising) which shows that Sprite is being insinuated into your unconscious brain by the makers.Â This impression is reinforced by the ‘sublymonal’ website which features a verbal version of the subservient chicken where the female voiceover voice from the spot shoots big-brother-esque definitions back to you for virtually any phrase you enter.
We are not teenage boys, but we are hard pressed to understand how portraying the Sprite brand as the agent of mind control might help the franchise which did terrifically well with ‘Obey Your Thirst.’ However, the last Crispin Porter campaign we did not like and did not understand was for Burger King and we feel more confident in our assessment of this campaign after seeing the terrible operating results reported by Burger King after a year of running the ‘King’ advertising.
Although this advertising blog is open to hearing other interpretations, our strong feeling is that this spot is intended to attract eyeballs and spawn conversation.Â However we do not feel that it strengthens the brand or will sell much Sprite.
Branding Bottom Line:
ThirdWay recommends strict Freudian analysis for the Sprite creative team.