Ads as Stories: The Most Interesting Man in the World

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Stay thirsty, my friends!“Ads as Stories” is a series devoted to analyzing different advertising campaigns as acts of storytelling, and breaking down the narrative being told.

The one thing in the world that people are most afraid of, according to studies, isn’t death or failure. It’s the thought  of being boring. It’s that our lives will slip by us, and we will miss out on the opportunity of adventure that is all around us. This is the principle philosophy behind Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign.

Before all of this began, Dos Equis was a minutely successful beer label, one of many of Heineken USA’s chosen imports. The beer itself had been around for over a century, but was never fairly popular. In 2006, the New York branch of advertising agency EuroRSCG teamed up with Dos Equis in an attempt to create interest in the beer among an American audience, where almost all imported beers were suffering a decline in sales.

Their solution was the creation of a debonair, part-Bond, part-Hemingway figure, a spokesman that would bring class, respect, and desire to Dos Equis. They created The Most Interesting Man in the World.

One would be safe in saying that The Most Interesting Man is perhaps the greatest spokesperson in the history of advertising. The character works because he is a voluntary spokesperson. He doesn’t seem to exist to sell a brand. He has his own life and backstory that has nothing to do with the product, the two just happen to agree on a way of life. Because he doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does it’s Dos Equis.

The character works as an older gentlemen, because he doesn’t present a competition to Dos Equis’ audience. He isn’t someone that everybody wishes they could be right now, he’s an aspiration that everybody wants to be in the future. In a sense, he offers them an affirmation that an exciting life is still within everybody’s grasp. His signature sign off, “Stay thirsty, my friends” doesn’t refer to a literal thirst for beer, it’s referring to a thirst for adventure that he is reminding everyone that they have.

Strange to say, but The Most Interesting Man also has a depth to him, which one couldn’t say about any other character in all of advertising, and it works to his advantage. This is in part because of the concept that he is a voluntary spokesperson, a real character who just happens to be in an advertisement, but a good deal of the credit must be given to actor Jonathan Goldsmith. Goldsmith brings a genuine worldliness to character. His comfortable posture and worn expression speak volumes more than his humorous catchphrases ever could. When we hear about the amazing feats accomplished by this man, we believe it. This is solely because when one looks into the face of Goldsmith, one sees a man who has loved and lost, a man who has seen many things, a man who has lived in the truest sense of the word.

Needless to say, the campaign has been a huge success. Dos Equis went from a minor brand, internationally, to becoming the second star-brand in Heineken USA’s lineup. Even at a time when all other imported beer was declining by almost 11%, Dos Equis sales were up at least 22%. In 2006, the sales of the brand almost doubled. Nowadays, the brand is still a success, as the character has successfully grown beyond the TV screen to become an internet sensation with memes of The Most Interesting Man littering the interweb.

Stay thirsty, my friends.