Ad of the Week: Grey Goose's lush fantasy sells the experience, not the product

Liquor brand scores high by taking research on Millennialls to hear, says Ace Metrix's VP of marketing

Earlier this month, Grey Goose launched one of the more visually stirring ads we’ve seen in a while, and naturally, we were excited to see how it performed. An incredibly experiential journey, "La Pursuit" is the latest installment of the brand’s "Fly Beyond" campaign, running since 2013.

The BBDO New York creation, released in 30- and 60-second television spots as well as a 90-second online version, follows a group of 20-something friends whose extraordinary adventures include a car trip that turns into a wild goose chase, running through fields to catch a dirigible before it takes off and watching a classic film projected onto the clouds while sipping perfectly chilled vodka cocktails. To say it’s a luxurious fantasy is putting it mildly.

Because we at Ace Metrix are passionate about data’s ability to inform the "why" behind creative effectiveness, we have always been fascinated by how ads of different lengths perform. Historically we’ve seen longer ads have higher overall scores, though often the Watchability measure suffers, as viewers are less likely to want to commit the time to viewing the ad again. "La Pursuit" had results that align with this trend, though we did see a higher overall score for the :30 compared to the :60. As the Ad Personalities below demonstrate, all three lengths exhibit high Attention and Likeability, which are the keys to Breakthrough, and a strong capacity to Change brand perception, which is a strong Communication component. We also see validation that Watchability grows stronger as length decreases, as does Desire.

High-end liquor advertisers, along with everyone else, are going after the ever-elusive Millennial target, and it appears they are trying to lure them with experiences over traditional tactics. Mauricio Vergara, the chief marketing officer in North America for Bacardi, recently told the New York Times that Millennials are "not about acquiring products, but about acquiring experiences."

Specific to this goal, Grey Goose shows success. Among 21-35 year-olds, "La Pursuit :90" has the third highest Ace Score (625 among this demo) for the Liquor category over the past 90 days. Hennessy’s "Breaking New Grounds" scored a 631, and Patron broke through with "Cocktail Bliss," garnering a 629. The Hennessy spot is also an emotive experience, chronicling the father and son duo of Auguste and Jacques Piccard, who literally reached the highest heights and deepest lows imaginable. The Hennessy ad was better at delivering information through a visually compelling history lesson. Among Millennial spirit drinkers, all three ads performed even better, with scores of 689 for Patron, 687 for Hennessy and 680 for Grey Goose.

Through the whimsical journey in "La Pursuit," Grey Gooses creates an emotive experience for their target audience. This is evidenced in overwhelming 47%+ response that "the visual scenes" are the "Best Thing" about the ads. In viewer comments, words like "love," "incredible" and "interesting" are used frequently, as are more descriptive terms such as "beautiful," "stunning" and "awesome." These sample viewer comments demonstrate how powerful, and even persuasive, the ad is:

"Awesome ad and it didn't really matter that I didn't know who it was for until the end!  Impressive visual scenes and catchy tunes kept my attention throughout, and even made me wish I could go for that zeppelin ride." — M21-35/Midwest/Ace Score 857

"This was a crazy ad...I loved it!! How cool would it be to do all that?!" — F21-35/Midwest/Ace Score 756

"Grey Goose you have perfected commercials. It's random, intriguing, way hipster-y and has nothing to do with Grey Goose until the end but it DEFINITELY kept me on my toes, it told me a story, it made me want to be a part of their adventure, and that is saying something when all you have is a few minutes, or seconds, to convince me." — F21-35/Midwest/Ace Score 732

Though this viewer may be outside the Millennial group, his comment shows how convincing the ad is:

"This ad really opened my eyes, with its unique perspective on Grey Goose vodka, and nostalgia in showing the movie in the clouds. I really liked it. There is no other ad, even for alcohol, that is like this. Great and unique job to those who made this ad. I have tried Grey Goose in the past, and will try it again because of this ad." — M36-49/West/Ace Score 740

The last point we’d like to make here is with regard to polarity. The Polarity Score measures the level of disagreement over the ad on a scale of 1-100, and we typically see most ads score between 30 and 70. Scores for "La Pursuit" range from 49-52, indicating a medium level of disagreement among viewers. Luckily for Grey Goose, the target audience is not the cause of polarization. It’s also worth noting that the polarity norm for liquor is 61, so the ads are more agreeable than many in its category.

Whether you are on the side that love these ads or hates them, it’s hard to say they don’t paint a memorable picture. Just remember, when planning your media mix, longer versions are great for driving breakthrough, but should be limited in use. Repetition will be more successful for your condensed version of the ad, as will the ability to drive other important measures such as desire.

Jason Zazzi is vice president of marketing with Ace Metrix.

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