Sprite’s “German banned commercials” were fakes

Comme l’année dernière avec Heineken et Guiness, des vidéos ont été publiées sur Youtube et relayées comme des publicités bannies (bannies, soit disant, de la télévision allemande pour être précis).

Cette fois-ci, la victime est The Coca-Cola Company et sa marque Sprite. Parce que cet article se doit de l’être, il sera majoritairement rédigé en anglais. En espérant que cela ne froisse personne et que mon anglais ne vous écorche pas trop 🙂

When I’ve seen the two Sprite banned commercial, I was pretty sure it was a spec/student/fake work. I don’t mean this because of the execution, which is clearly very good, but because of the way sexual innuendos were made in these two films (Yes, I know it’s a little bit more than innuendo, never mind).

So I just contacted SillyDogFilms, the Youtube profile that posted the videos in order to know more about these German banned commercials . The Youtube user answered me very fastly and very seriously (I thought he will just be joking), saying these ad weren’t ads but a kind of an experimentation. Understanding that it was more than just trying to be the viral of the week, I asked the author, Max Isaacson, to explain us why he made these films. Here are his answers :

Max, where do you come from ? Did you work in team on this project ? Did you involve any ad agency in the project ?

I’m a New York based filmmaker working freelance and trying to make my way. I had these ideas for a while and decided that I thought they were worth producing. With the exception of the amazing cast and crew involved, nobody helped produce these spots. I shot them in my apartment with borrowed equipment and props. The only thing we really had to pay for was that giant can. There was no agency, no production company, just me and a handful of friends who had enough of a sense of humor to want to help.

Did these ads were on air in Germany and then banned, as said by the Huffinghton Post ?

I have no idea where the Huffington Post got any of their information. It was clearly posted on my YouTube page that these were spec commercials. Only you and Gawker picked up on it right away. They never aired anywhere, hell they weren’t even supposed to get popular on the internet. I emailed my friends and family about them and that was it, after that this thing ran on its own two legs. Odd world this internet of ours.

Why did you make these ads ?

I made the ads because I thought they were funny. A friend of mine thought them up twelve years ago. I wanted to be able to get a laugh out of people while still trying to make some kind of commentary on the overuse of sexuality in advertising. I mean, how could these be real? I really wanted to go as far as I could with it, and I guess that happened, but I never meant for people to really believe these were legitimate commercials.

Did you work in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Company ?

Coca-Cola had zero involvement. In fact, with the exception of the people on set, no outside parties were involved. Just me and my crew in my apartment. Honestly it’s surprising to see how much you can do with little resources.

Even if this was an experimentation, are you aware that can be bad for Sprite’s brand image ?

I never gave much thought to what these spots would do for Sprite’s image. I guess that was something of a mistake, hindsight being twenty twenty. I probably should have just made up a soda brand. Also, I really never meant for these to take off the way they have. This was supposed to get a chuckle out of people I knew, not five hundred thousand people.

Did you spot any global trends in the way of considering your work ? I mean, did people reacted in a specific way ?

As far as global trends were concerned, it seemed that most of our hits were coming from Brazil, Germany and the U.S. There was a ton of talk about racial issues, sexual issues and, very seriously, children. I was reading for hours about how the “German Censorship Committee” which as far as I know doesn’t really exist, pulled it because it was an interracial couple. That and a whole other slew of comments were flying left and right, it was pretty impossible to keep up.

Eventually, how did you launch the ads ? (emails to bloggers ? or you just posted it on Youtube ?)

As I said, I “launched” the ads by posting them on my YouTube profile. That was it. I’m amazed at the speed and efficiency with which the blogger and web periodical systems picked them up. It actually says quite a lot about how information is transmitted these days. Those spots didn’t get more than a thousand hits for the first two days they were up, and I had happily assumed that that was pretty much it, but between day three and five they got half a million hits and were being talked about the world over. Honestly I’m shocked that nobody but you and Gawker did any fact checking before they ran the articles. Makes you a little nervous about whats being printed out there.

Thank you for your answers Max.

More than an interview, Max Isaacson wanted to make a statement. You can read it just below :

My name is Max Isaacson, I directed and produced the fake Sprite ads that have been making the rounds over the past five days. There have been quite a lot of false statements made regarding these and I would like to make a few things very clear about these spots. First, there was no involvement from either The Coca-Cola Company or Greencard Pictures. Second, this was not supposed to be taken seriously by anybody. They were made completely on spec, which was clearly stated on the YouTube pages on which the ads were primarily seen. I paid for, produced and directed both spots independently. I am frankly quite surprised that spots of this nature were so quickly and easily believed to be legitimate. I hope that all parties involved will understand that this was a simple mistake that went much too far too fast, and that it is now made clear that these were not real commercials, nor were they ever produced with intention of being taken as such. Thank you,
Max Isaacson

I think all what Max told us is very interesting, both about how the viral went up and how people, blogger and journalists didn’t even check their sources before posting, tweeting and talking about these spec ads. According to a last minute Max update, the video was seen almost 900k times on youtube, in just 5 days.

It’s not the first time that some UGC make the buzz worldwide, but this one was undeniably a real success regarding the way it slipped past everyone.

Lastly, I would say that I do respect a lot the fact that Max doesn’t try to hide his implication from the making of these films. Let’s just hope for him that The Coca-cola Company won’t be to angry about all this fuss.

As to the debate about Ethic, Sex, advertising and so on, each of you will have, I’m sure, it’s own point of view. So, do not hesitate to share it.

Edit 23/7 : Gaëtan has just made a poll. Your answers will be very helpful ! (answering should take you only 10 seconds)

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