In the battle of fantasy CEOs/Brand Salesman, who wins?
It’s old stick yes, but it appears K-Swiss are the next brand to be taking over the advertising world with a rather crude 5 minute slot promoting their new range of trainers, headed up by the fictional Kenny Powers. It’s a crossover that no one saw coming, but equally one that’s part of a trend at this moment in time; Over the top, ‘that would never happen in real life’ nonsense.
Beware, don’t watch this on loud, there’s f-bombs galore!
Shorter teaser version;
Now I bet you can work out what the ‘MF’ stands for in MFCEO.
In a world filled with fake crossover characters (Hey Old Spice guy. How’s it going Kevin Butler) Kenny Powers has to be the strangest. A character from a TV show, using his on screen character to sell trainers. It’s clever yes, using an already established TV character to sell your product in the way he knows best, but it’s hardly original. I’ll still remember Kevin Butler turning up in character at the E3 expo, in the middle of a Jack Tretton speech, and taking over the entire presentation to the whoops and hollers of a filled auditorium.
Originality out of the window, it’s a brave step for K-Swiss, and a definite shot at the already established target audience of the show Eastbound & Down. Talk about narrowing it down a little! I had no idea the show existed before seeing this advertisement, and unfortunately, it appears I’ll probably like it.
Kenny Powers can be considered as the worst kind of human being, so why on earth would K-Swiss want him to advertise their product? Would the outcome have been any different if it was Danny McBride as himself? Rather than in the shoes of an awful, yet fictional, human being?
Sure, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that being rude, crude, obnoxious, and generally a bit of a dick makes you quite likeable, but what makes us love an anti-hero? Is it the fact that they get away with saying what ever the hell they want? They can make that awful joke without having to look over their shoulder because they really don’t care? Is it the fact that they can be mean to people and not care at all? How does this relate to selling a product?
Obviously the folks at K-Swiss have toned down the Kenny Powers character by a great deal. Yes, he swears, leers and women, swears, makes crude references, and of course, swears again, but in the TV show, he’s about 100 times worse;
An easy decision to make? Of course.
You see, in the advert he’s actually rather likeable. He’s the douche that creates something brilliant, and markets something in the way the 18-25 year old audience, fans of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and It’s Always Sunny, would love to see, and more importantly, love to do. Who doesn’t want to be the guy with unlimited money and a dream? In the TV show however, he’s an utter blight on humanity.
It’s a brave idea, and an obvious online-only short, but it has the possibility to blow up in K-Swiss’ face. While it stands as a prime example of oblique advertising, there’s always the chance it could go very, very wrong. When a brand puts their name to someone so crude, how long will it be before a young mother sees the video, and shows it to the tabloids? What will the shareholders think of your “super cool” and “subversive teen only” advertising campaign then? There will be a fall guy, and it certainly won’t be Kenny Powers. In the mean time, pretend to be that 18 year old boy again. Enjoy the over the top childish stupidity as much as you can without fear of reprisal. I don’t expect it to be around for ever.