Paired with flighty piano by Chilly Gonzales, this is a spot that’s as beautiful to listen to as it is to watch.
7 / 10
Alcohol advertising can be a tricky proposition. While fast food brands can simply film sizzling patties and crisp lettuce until the corn-fed cows come home, agencies advertising alcohol have to go much further than just showing off a snazzy bottle.
Instead, alcohol ads tend to promote abstract lifestyles, whether that’s Corona’s beach bum fantasies, Budweiser’s rustic nostalgia or the flat-out opulence of Grey Goose campaigns. In that sense, they have much more in common with perfume adverts.
For its latest spot "Hands", 1800 Tequila opts to show off not one aspirational lifestyle but several at once, as they attempt to use the medium of a liquor commercial to get to the elusive heart of "modern man".
Instead of merely warming himself up while drinking whiskey in an oak-lined bar or cracking a beer after a hard day chopping logs, 1800 Tequila’s modern man manages both simultaneously. He’s a lover and fighter, an artist and a handyman, Jesse James and Jesse Eisenberg.
That’s the idea at least. As "Hands" begins, we see our suave, swarthy hero approaching two tasks with equal vigour – facing an opponent in the boxing ring and playing jazz piano to an expectant audience. While a lot of people would rather do anything than be faced with either of these challenges, our Modern Man isn’t fazed one bit. He strides into the stage/ring, wearing a dark suit as comfortably as a pair of beat-up gloves. Approaching his uncertain fate, the yappy snarl of Chance the Rapper suddenly booms out.
Of course, the vocal appearance of the Chicago-born hip hop wunderkind is one of many things "Hands" has going for it. Paired with flighty piano by Chilly Gonzales, this is a spot that’s as beautiful to listen to as it is to watch.
Having collaborated with rappers previously, 1800 Tequila and agency CP+B LA are clearly onto a winning combination, balancing the busy energy of Chance’s track with sumptuous production design. An ideal mix for a brand that goes by the tagline "Just refined enough".
The style of "Hands" is also bolstered by its cinematic quality. Watching the camera swirl around our ivory-tickling modern man, you cannot help but think of Ryan Gosling in La La Land (albeit a bit less talkative).
Equally, the punishing, percussive editing of the fight sequence recalls any number of great boxing films, from Raging Bull to Creed, taking cues from Chance’s chant-like vocals to inform the pace of the scene. If nothing else, it plays like a thrilling short film, not unlike Haig’s rather silly but fun spot starring David Beckham from a few years ago.
1800 Tequila may not offer any new answers for the riddle of modern masculinity (it suggests that being a brilliant pianist and boxer is some kind of "why-didn’t-I-think-of-that" compromise), but it’s certainly a cut above your average alcohol advert.
That may sound like faint praise, but if the brand continue to mash up gorgeous visuals with unheard tracks from world-famous rappers, they could really be onto something.
As it stands, "Hands" hits as hard and plays as well as the best of them.