Every once in a while, advertisers, even creators of TV commercials, create something that transcends the genre and becomes art.
Meet The Most Interesting Man in the World. Suave, sophisticated, and entirely fictional; a man’s man, an amalgamation of Hemingway, 007 and Salvador Dali, with a touch of Chuck Norris.
A series of TV commercials promoting a certain brand of beer use as their spokesperson a man who is much too sophisticated to be a beer drinker. Well, most of the time. As he informs us, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis”.
He dishes out advice on everything from self-defense (“the right look should suffice”) to rollerblading (“no”), in a nightclub-like setting, always surrounded by beautiful women. The campaign was designed by marketing firm Euro RSCG, who created a whole mythology surrounding The Interesting One.
We’re told that he’s the only man to ever ace a Rorschach test, that his blood smells like cologne and that his personality is so magnetic, he’s unable to carry credit cards. We see him traveling the world, conversing with royalty, and escaping from danger, always with a beautiful woman or two by his side.
The genius of the campaign lies in the subtle blend of unapologetic 1960's ideas of manliness with absurd humor. In once scene The Most Interesting Man in the World is seen, impeccably dressed, freeing a grizzly bear from a trap with his bare hands. In another, we see him climbing out of a space capsule after splashdown, and in yet another with a host of beauty pageant contestants in a small boat.
There is no context, no explanation, just scenes from a life well lived, including flashbacks to his youth, grainy and yellowish. The mythology that is created is extensive, there’s even a meta-mythology: “The things you have heard about me, are all true.” Fake Spanish accent and all.
The art in this case comes from the elaborate universe that is conjured into being, based on our common cultural memes of Zorro, James Bond, The Saint, Indiana Jones, and all the other over-the-top and sophisticated male heroes from books and movies, men of action and joie de vivre. Men we aspire to be.