White Claw went for it, but it feels like a rushed version of a classic

—What is lacking in the industry today is time, says Craig Redmond. Time to craft, time to nurture, time to tell a story.—

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.

I think those of us with a few more creases on our brow remember exactly the moment we saw Johnathon Glazer’s breathtaking masterpiece for Guinness on behalf of Abbott Mead Vickers.

That deliciously mysterious opening 15 seconds, spent staring into the exotropic gaze of a weather-scarred Polynesian, anxiously wondering what the hell was about to unfold.

It would have been an unbearable perpetuity for the attention deficient, channel promiscuous, multi-tasking fruit fly of a consumer living their lives in the six-second intervals of today.

But back in 1999, for a young copywriter, sitting in a stifling edit suite and being summoned to a monitor by an award winning, chain-smoking film surgeon and told to shut up and watch, that opening 15 seconds was one of the most powerful expressions of a brand truth I had ever witnessed, and have not seen equalled since.

Good things come to those… indeed.

Because immediately after that tantalizing quarter-minute of mind-mucking reflection comes a deluge of metaphorical brilliance that embodies every sensory pleasure a Guinness moment promises.

The surge of the dark ocean and charging white stallions emulating the cascade from the tap. The pounding drums echoing the heartbeats of anticipation. The Melville-inspired narrative literally transporting you to an ancient public house in some mythical, sea-etched village. And then the final elation of surviving that religiously observed 85-second pour to finally enjoy the bitter black brew.

Pure Genius. As another Guinness line once famously claimed.

Now, if Guinness were ever to come out with, God forbid, a non-alcoholic, zero-calorie diet beer, today’s creative showcase might be how their original “Surfer” would be reimagined.

Don’t get me wrong. This effort on behalf of White Claw Hard Seltzer is beautiful to watch.

That same, epically monochromatic cinematography arrests your senses. The gorgeously sultry music oozes serenity in wonderful contrast to the chaos erupting with the encroaching storm. Then—speaking of gorgeous—surfing hero Caio Vaz appears, dripping with it, literally gushing gorgeousness.

But that’s about it. It’s Guinness Light.

And I think it is emblematic of what is lacking in our industry these days: At the very heart and soul of Guinness’ “Surfer” and what makes it as brilliant as it is… time.

Time to conceive. Time to nurture, protect and champion. Time to craft. The time to tell a story in its entirety in the medium it deserves.

And it’s not just advertising that seems starved for time. Netflix is churning out content so quickly, with product that often screams “drive thru,” that its creators should be issued fast food hair nets.

Music streaming platforms are dictating that a song must deliver a catchy riff or memorable lyric in the first few bars or risk getting skipped, templating a formulaic genre of pop pablum.

And of course, social channels like TikTok and Snapchat are parsing created content into nano-second views, making our prowess for storytelling even that much more challenged, and its resonance inevitably fleeting.

So, at the risk of sounding like the old man yelling at kids on his lawn, I ask you to invest 160 seconds of your own time to watch the following spots that circle a similar concept and certainly deliver a shared aesthetic.

But then compare and contrast how one bravely plunges to the depths of infinite brand glory, while the other barely dips its toe beneath the surface.

And then imagine.

Imagine the immeasurable possibilities that you could be afforded when given the sweet luxury of tick followed by tock followed by tick followed by tock.

White Claw


Craig Redmond