Sega spots very cool – and funny

Bob Garfield, who writes about ads for Advertising Age, did a column late last year on Sega versus Nintendo.He opined that Nintendo advertising tries to 'impress kids by mimicking their styles and pandering disgracefully to adolescent rebelliousness,' while Sega advertising has...

Bob Garfield, who writes about ads for Advertising Age, did a column late last year on Sega versus Nintendo.

He opined that Nintendo advertising tries to ‘impress kids by mimicking their styles and pandering disgracefully to adolescent rebelliousness,’ while Sega advertising has been content to be ‘weirdly cool!’

Sega spots are decidedly weird, and funny, and very, very cool, indeed.

A current effort tells us about an electronic football game that lets the player see ‘sixty-five yards downfield.’

Okay, that’s the Unique Selling Proposition. Sixty-five yards. Remember that!

But, the quarterback in the live-action demonstration of the game’s principles is none other than Joe Montana, who is, trust me, very cool, even though (or, perhaps, because) he’s very old.

Joe drops back to throw, looks sixty-five yards downfield, and happens to focus on a grotesquely fat, half-naked fan in the stands who’s jumping up and down flapping five hundred pounds of disgusting flab.

Now, that’s both a gross-out, and, it’s cool, too.

Joe’s so bummed by this apparition that he loses his concentration and gets sacked.

As the tacklers pile off old Joe, one of them says, ‘I’m sorry, Mister Montana!’ Which is very funny, and very cool again.

There’s more, but what’s so fascinating about Sega advertising is its utilization of props as weirdly repulsive as dwarfs, dead squirrels, naked fat men, dopey moms and old quarterbacks to achieve a veritable nirvana of the ultra-cool vibes upon which ten-year-olds groove.

The sixty-five yards was just a device, stupid! The real USP is ‘cool.’

Because their youth-cool is even weirder than our boomer-cool, it serves to focus the mind on the main issue, which is that cool is the developed world’s most pervasive and compelling USP!

Half the advertising strategies in existence, if we were telling ourselves the truth, would read make it a cool thing to buy this product. Period.

Why do we order one beer over another in a smart restaurant?

Why do people drive Saabs instead of Chevies?

Why do you buy the brand of vodka that you do?

Why did you choose your last overseas vacation destination?

Want to write me a couple of pages on the rational evaluation of factual data that influenced your decision to switch from Smirnoff to Absolut, or from Acapulco to Costa Rica, Buick to Mercedes, or Timex to Gucci?

I don’t think so.

Real life is an endless series of petty choices that don’t really matter a hoot, but must be made so we can get home to dinner.

Sears or The Gap? Holt’s or Eaton’s? Goldstar or Sony? Avis or Budget? Nike or Reebok? Who the hell knows, man! Just do the cool thing!

It is a terrifying thought for most advertisers that millions of people are daily flocking to or shedding their taste for their precious products totally without reliance on any factual data whatsoever.

Marketers who can prove product superiority in the laboratory are dropping dead from coronaries because nobody knows, or cares!

(Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to fire the agency!)

The fact that matters is, short of a cure for cancer, cool is king. The fashion people, like Lauren and Klein know this. So does Marlboro, and Absolut. I think Budweiser used to know it, too.

For years, as Swissair’s agency in Canada, we told business boppers what was factually special and unique about the airline.

Then, one day, George Cohon went on tv and said Get me there Swissair, or I’m not going! That’s the line everyone heard, and remembered, and acted upon.

It was, you know, kind of a cool thing to say.