Whopper Freakout=Reverse Potential Creative

Crispin’s done it again with www.whopperfreakout.com — a short film or long-form commercial weighing in at an entertaining, whopping 7.5 minutes and a reported670 calories and 39 grams of fat and 51 calories. What they’ve done again is open for debate, but at a minimum it’s another challenge to status quo creative thinking.

A summary of the good, the bad and the whatever:

The Good:

  • Feels like an honest attempt at recreating a simple and wonderful concept–a world without Whoppers
  • Reactions seem sincere, authentic and believable
  • They sneak in functional benefits of flame broiled as perceptually less-evil than fried like their competitors
  • They get brand-fans to dis the competition in a way “we would never” and appeal to the highest vanities/fantasies of their client’s brand and executive management
  • The happy man-crush scenes with The King at the end

The Bad

  • Reality sucks in advertising when your customers look like the “Super SizeMe” protagonist after the unhealthy month exclusively on a fast food diet. Most of the actors and extras in this reality reel are dreadful representations of the effects of fast food. All that was aspirational and uplifting in The Good created by its authenticity is demolished by the burgerbelly.
  • How about the long-hair worthy of YouTube parody and jingoism?
  • I gotta ask: were these people totally stoned filmed by a stoned director and crew in a concept dreamed up in a stoned state, pitched after some big bong loads (do the kids still smoke it this way?) and bought off by a stoned client? Check the algorithm: is there a connection between The King and weed going on?
  • How is this supposed to drive me into BK–could it be by telling me what I’ve been missing the whole time?
  • Note to self: put nostalgia up in “The Good.” I can’t eat nostalgia, but I can feed fear…

The Whatever: Reverse Potential Creative

What Karl Rove consistently delivered to his candidates, most recently for George W, was a form of the thinking man’s jujutsu: take a perceived strength and make it a weakness. For instance, consider how Rove architected the 2004 Bush campaign. He used John Kerry’s Vietnam War credentials in the face of George Jr.’s questionable record in this area against Kerry with a trumped up Swift Boat smear.  It’s the reverse potential of a logical outcome.

Apply this thinking to advertising and sacred cows become victims to the creative process as the Whopper has here. The Whopper, an icon, put it up against the wall.

I admire the way everything’s up for consideration with Crispin. Don’t have a King? Let’s create one. Chicken not cheeky enough? Satisfy our most twisted adolescent fantasies and make it subservient. It’s real branding in the user generated age, pulling out brand assets that weren’t obvious to previous regimes and times and put them out there for reaction, parody, pass along and pop culture value.

I believe that a simple thought executed well has great power for comprehension and effect. Crispin is king at this.

I have serious doubts about how far Crispin considers the implications and execution of their simple thoughts and devices. In this case, mistreatment of the Whopper and its guests doesn’t work for me. It’s a cynical, ad-hearted “candid camera.” You kind of expect a child to start crying after being deprived of their Whopper as camera 11 zooms in on the cheek to catch every tear.

In this film, the reverse potential gambit blew up. In my opinion, reverse potential is a device to approach and use sparingly in execution. To mix metaphors further, it’s a one-trick pony that runs its course quickly then needs to be retired. But, for all the Creatives out there, I encourage trying it as an exercise to jog you out of a creative block. Soon, you’ll be in a better place and hopefully have the chops to recognize what’s worth taking to market and what’s not.

In summary: entertaining with a small “e.” The bad outweighs the good, pun intended. And Crispin’s got to dig into a different bag to avoid pulling out the reverse potential creative device so often.

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