’Tis the season for getting the people you love shitfaced on top-shelf booze.
Johnnie Walker has a history of producing high-end commercials, but this one rubbed the folks over at AdFreak the wrong way. Blogger David Kiefaber dubbed the spots “disappointing.” The clips show short interactions between two brothers (as well as a man with his son-in-law), and depict an “emotional dubbing” that translates what the action on screen actually means. For instance, when the younger brother asks nonchalantly “Have you heard of it?” he actually means “All I want is your approval.” (So says his wreath-encircled internal monologue.)
Kiefaber wasn’t amused:
Not only do they reinforce the dumb sitcom biotruth that men should never be open about anything, they suggest masking one’s true feelings with liquor, which is a horrible idea. Too much of that just leads to the openness these guys are trying to avoid. And that would be epic, since the recipients of the whiskey in both spots, deep down, are undeniably total assholes.
I’m not sure I agree. Let’s be honest: the ads are funny. I personally excuse their minor offenses because they aren’t taking themselves seriously. The commercials are meant to be light, fun, and satirical.
Moreover, the ads do speak to a real social stigma. Sure, booze is probably not the first gift I’d choose to show wordless affection. (Although it can also be an awesome gift.) But for some guys—hell, for some women—it is odd and uncomfortable to show verbal emotion. The ads don’t explicitly endorse stoicism, they’re just pointing out that hey, sometimes it’s easier to just communicate another way.
This isn’t to say that men should be encouraged to stay quiet. We know that better than most here at GMPM. But the ads do bring up the myriad other ways men show affection without talking or sharing feelings. (Check it out: we collected a whole list.)
What do you think, readers? Is Johnnie Walker off base?
Oh, and here’s the second commercial, for further consideration: