Tango turns on the filthy humour in first work from VCCP

New ads introduce Tanguru, who intervenes at moments of maximum social awkwardness.

Tango will introduce a new character, the Tanguru, in a campaign launching tomorrow (23 May) that marks the first work for the soft drink from VCCP since it was appointed to handle a trio of Britvic brands in 2017.

There are two executions; in "Text", which will be shown on TV, a young woman accidentally texts her dad asking if he "fancies a quickie", with a couple of aubergine emojis added for emphasis.

In "Massager", the same dad has been rummaging around in her room and, coming across her Magic Wand vibrator, asks what it is. In both cases, the Tanguru appears, freezes time and offers advice to the girl on how to escape from the "sticky situation".

"Massager" will be shown in cinemas (in films rated 15 or 18) and on digital platforms. Tango considered a TV run, but decided against it after being advised by Clearcast that it would have to be restricted to slots after 11pm.

The work was written by Liam Wilson, working with creative director Mark Orbine, and directed by Tom Kuntz through MJZ.

Tango has declined substantially since its 1990s heyday, when it was famous for creating loudly irreverent ads such as 1992’s "Orange man", and 1997’s "St George", both created by HHCL.

In the 52 weeks ending in February, Tango was not in the top 10 carbonated soft-drinks brands, according to Nielsen rankings, meaning sales were behind 10th-placed San Pellegrino, which had sales of £31.4m, and far behind Fanta, which was on £195.6m after enjoying a huge sales boost last year.

But speaking to Campaign, brand director Ray Patterson said the brand had enjoyed a turnaround in the past two years and was now growing faster than the category as a whole.

"Tango is clearly a brand that’s loved by the British public," he said. "Whenever you go and talk to agencies, retailers, employers – their faces light up."

Its legacy of acclaimed creative work, Patterson said, had also helped attract Kuntz – a director with a track record of comedy hits, including Old Spice’s "The man your man could smell like" and Moneysupermarket.com’s "Epic Action Man". "To get him over from the States to work on Tango was a bit of a coup," he said. "That’s the draw of Tango."

Patterson admitted that over the years it had been a challenge to maintain the standard of the "groundbreaking, really culturally important advertising" the brand had been associated with in the 1990s. "Culturally, the country has moved on, humour has changed," he said. "We couldn’t necessarily continue with that same tone of voice, that same approach to comedy."

With the introduction of the Tanguru, he said, "we feel like we’ve got onto a rich territory – awkwardness".

"We’re quite a cheeky, tongue-in-cheek brand," he added. "We’ve always had a bold, irreverent humour that sits behind the brand. But we’re distinctly British, a bit mischievous, but we want to make sure we’re on the right side of the line.

"Text" will make its TV debut during the final episode of The Big Bang Theory on E4 on Thursday and will also be shown during The Last Leg and Celebrity Juice. "Our approach to media buying has been spot picks, appointment-to-view TV," Patterson said.

The TV, cinema and digital executions will be followed next week with Snapchat activity across Lenses, Filters and Stories.

Patterson said he wanted the Tanguru to be a character that would run and run. "We’ve got so many ideas going through summer and beyond," he said.

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