Estrella Damn's latest epic in-cinema lifestyle advertisement in their long-running Mediterraneamente campaign features interns amidst the sun-kissed skinny-dip beach parties and glamour of Catalan’s recently shut El Bulli restaurant and also the maestro chef Ferran Adria himself. Along the way the advert presents a Summer romance and branded lifestyle with images of food, good music and themes previously developed in the brewer’s campaign.
The spot’s song, I Wish That I Could See You Soon, is performed by the French duo Herman Düne and previously the campaigns have included groups like The Triangles, Billie the Vision and the Dancers. Interestingly the annual campaign features the musicians performing live providing another instance of advertising agencies as cultural intermediaries bringing interesting alternative sounds to the attention of wider audiences. At a time when music recording sales continue to decline and FM Radio stations maintain their commitment to inane chatter and conservative play-lists, this advert continues the well established tradition of advertisements being the best place to encounter new music.
The ménage à trois-less 2009 spot in the same campaign.
The entire advertisement stays mostly true to the now established structure of Estrella Damn’s Mediterraneamente campaign, though the deviations are intriguing. Unlike the weird sexual undertone of the 2009 advert where a ménage à trois seems likely to explode any second but somehow never does, the latest has a Facebook-lifestyle edge which sees the protagonists' free-time spent moving from one photo opportunity to another. In some cases they pose and contrive amusingly fait shots for photographs, yet mostly there are no cameras in the scenes. Hence the advert, where our heroes march Beatles-like across the beach, feels like an odd blur between abandoned social realism and all-too real lifestyles where the external eye of the Facebook follower has been internalised, for whom they are always “on show” and for whom they re-package their lifestyle as an object for third-party visual consumption, even if this third-party is a figment of their imagination. Hence the entire Summer feels like one big social media photo event where the photos are not actually taken.
As the advert moves into its final section we are left with the suspicion that the couple are destined to have a Summer of yearning glances across a busy kitchen amidst a social dynamic that prohibits its members; a world of parasexuality where intimacy is consumed yet never consummated. As recently described by Brown in Inside Marketing (previously reviewed in this blog), parasexuality refers to a deployed yet contained sexuality that is carefully channelled but not fully discharged; a sexuality that straddles public and private and has emerged as a preferred model for marketing’s endorsed lifestyles. This is the age in which, as Zizek likes to remind us, James Bond no longer has sex with "the Bond Girl" and genuine intimacy is in danger of becoming re-imagined as a toxic intrusion. However, this is still a Spanish advert and eventually our two heroes manage to sneak away for a clandestine but nonetheless spot-lit snog on the beach and romance is finally allowed to blossom, at which stage the other two friends disappear from the narrative. Given that the golden rule of beer advertising is that there must be three men in the ad – after all, a solitary drinker would be an alcoholic and two men would be gay – the withdrawal of one into romance leaves the other two cast into an advertising nowhere land where they suddenly cease to exist.