Last night I woke up at about 4AM and couldn't fall asleep for awhile. The reason couldn't have been more silly: I had a TV commercial that I can't stand playing continuously in my head.
A gravelly voice kept saying between my ears, "It's perfect with cola." It's the same voice I've heard in my head while showering for several mornings in a row. I feel outright tormented by it.
Years ago, my friend Chad told me a story of how as a child his younger brother had experienced a near nervous breakdown simply because the theme to the "Strawberry Shortcake" doll and cartoon was stuck in his head. ("Strawberry shortcake, my she's looking fine/Cute little doll with the strawberry smell.") I didn't believe it at the time. How could one innocuous jingle drive you crazy? But as silly as it sounds, "perfect with cola" is becoming my Strawberry Shortcake.
Although I hate to give them any additional publicity, however modest it may be coming from a little-read blog, the commercial was for Cuervo Black tequila. Apparently this darker variety of tequila is supposed to be ideally well matched with cola. But I have this thing about the word "cola". For starters, who even uses it? The brand names Coke and Pepsi have become synonyms for cola that are actually used far more often than the generic terms itself.
In other words, nobody says "cola". Except for my mom, of course, whom my sister and I tease and laugh at incessantly whenever we go to a restaurant and she says politely to the waiter, "I'd like a diet cola, please." It reminds me of that Simpsons episode when Mayor Quimby's young son goes ballistic because a French chef won't pronounce "chowder" as "chow-dah". "Say chowda!" he exclaims angrily. I want to do the same thing to the Cuervo people, only in reverse: Stop saying cola!
Apparently people usually drink tequila straight, or at least not mixed with soft drinks. Cuervo wants to challenge the traditional "rum and Coke" cocktail with its new tequila. But if they say, "Cuervo and Coke", they're plugging Coca-Cola. Or Pepsi were they to change the accompanying brand name.
My favorite part, also known as the part that irks me the most, is at the beginning, when the voice over says, "How to order a Cuervo Black and cola..." Next, a man steps up to the bar and says, "Cuervo Black and cola." Gee, thanks for the instruction - I never would have got that on my own!
An ad expert or a psychologist might point out that Cuervo Black's commercial has already achieved its purpose. People like me are blogging about it. No such thing as bad publicity, right? But as my friend John Jay, creative director at Adweek magazine's global ad agency of the year, Wieden + Kennedy, has said many times, little in advertising, art or culture matters more than authenticity. And even though it may be my own private affair, I find the Cuervo Black ad excruciatingly inauthentic. (Incidentally, WK's Coke commercial with a giant Charlie Brown the hero was my favorite Super Bowl ad. What if they'd replaced Charlie with another bald kid?)
If you really must try this new liquor offering, I urge you to try it with 7-Up or Sprite, also known as a lemon-lime carbonated beverage. And in case you need instructions on how to order, just tell the bartender, "Cuervo Black with lemon-lime carbonated beverage."