I came across the hilarious new ad for R.M.Williams boots, an Australian brand. The ad is scripted and produced by Maximum Effort, the agency founded by Ryan Reynolds, a friend of Hugh Jackman who stars in the ad.
The ad is perhaps a tad too long and overstays the basic premise, but still, it’s a totally fun watch, treading very carefully around Jackman’s family jewels.
Then it struck me – this narrative device of a shoe brand having a celebrity wear ONLY the shoes seemed very, very familiar!
And then I remembered! The very famous, very controversial (at that time) Tuff Shoes ad from India from 1995! The ad agency was Ambience and it was shot by photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta.
The ad featured Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre wearing nothing but Tuff Shoes… and a python, to cover the family jewels. The same narrative as R.M.Williams’ ad. It’s almost like R.M.Williams’ ad was a verbose version of the Tuff Shoes ad, though the shoe styles couldn’t be more different.
(PS: The Tuff Shoes ad caused a major furore and was subject to multiple police complaints and lawsuits. In 2009, after a 14-year court battle, the people behind the ad, including Milind and Madhu, were acquitted.)
If we distill the narrative device to its bare minimum (pun unintended), it simply reads as “wears nothing but the product”.
That immediately took me towards Jockey, with its famous Indian slogan “Jockey or nothing”. I believe this statement was given as a brief by the India client, to Contract Advertising and they started using it in their India campaigns, even though the early ads did not depict it literally, like the two shoe campaigns mentioned earlier.
Eventually, some of the print ads took the literal depiction.
At least in case of an innerwear brand, it makes sense to use this ‘wears nothing but our product’ narrative, but with shoes, it gets absurdly stretched and silly 🙂
But wait! Another product category uses the ‘wears nothing but the product’ narrative idea! A very unlikely one – contact lens!
Alcon’s Dailies Total 1 2018 campaign by the agency John St. literally used the line, “Feels like wearing nothing at all”. As if not content with being literal, they used the idea literally in their ad film and outdoor ads too!
This is the only ad in this series that projects what the people felt (wearing only contact lens) as being seen by the onlookers too.
Alcon’s contact lens was not the only ‘wearable’ that used this narrative! Another wearable – hearing aid – used the same narrative in 2017. The brand was ‘Lyric’, billed as the 100% invisible hearing aid, from the parent brand Phonak.
But, in an incredibly smart creative decision, the agency (Terri & Sandy, USA) eschewed depicting nude models and instead used the readers’ imagination to suggest the narrative theme – “wearing nothing but…”. This was really well done!
You may argue that with a contact lens or hearing aid, at least they are wearing the product (and nothing else). But nothing may prepare you for the utterly bizarre ad for Coca-Cola’s Fairlife milk where the models wore nothing but milk! Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds.
Thankfully, the brand caught wind of the sentiment early and did not go ahead with this narrative for the broader launch.
PS: Title context for ‘The Nude Bomb’ – it’s the name of a hilarious Bond-spoof movie from 1980 where the premise was a bomb by the villain, which, when detonated, destroys only clothing, rendering people nude 🙂