I’ve always felt that one of the hallmarks of a great TV campaign is the ability to communicate the brand being advertised even if the sound is off. One campaign that meets this criterion is the long-running series of “Straight from the Bog” tv commercials by Ocean Spray.
Every ad features the same two folksy company spokesmen: Henry, a no-nonsense, sixty-something grower with a twinkle in his eye, and Justin, his younger, highly enthusiastic–if somewhat dimwitted–fellow grower. Both characters are very likable and are the kind of people we–or at least I–would like to think typify the members of the Ocean Spray grower cooperative.
What’s more, the ads almost always show Henry and Dustin knee-deep in a bright red bog of cranberries, never leaving a doubt as to the product–and even the brand–being advertised.
If you, like I, are closer to the age of the older gentleman, you’ll recognize that this campaign was clearly inspired by the brilliant Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler ad campaign that was such a phenomenal success in the mid-to-late 1980s.
At the time, I was a Marketing Director at the Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery, which owned Bartles & Jaymes. The ad campaign, and even the brand name, were created by legendary ad man Hal Riney, who didn’t let the fact that he owned the agency (Hal Riney & Partners) keep him from rolling up his sleeves and writing every brilliant word of every Bartles & Jaymes ad. And I can attest to the fact that this was one of the most successful ad campaigns in the history of the beverage industry.
Hemingway supposedly once said, “Good writers borrow; great writers steal.” If that’s the case, then the writers of the “Straight from the Bog” campaign are great indeed.