Classical studies

It's been a whole year or two since advertisers started looking past the giant shadow of selfimportant baby boomers to speak to a new, under-30 crowd of consumers.

The idea is to have a coupla twentysomethings hanging around, talking about classics–TV, football, and cars. (And while we're at it, of course, there's nothing like the "crisp, clean classic taste of Budweiser.")

Of com'se, we all remember the opposition to the introduction of Coca-Cola Classic. People were angered by the idea that if they didn't embrace the New (Coke) they'd be officially geezer-fled, embalmed by a product that sounded like a golf tournament.

But the difference here is that by dint of not being Lite or Dry regular old Budweiser Beer is positioned as a contradiction in terms, a young man's classic.

On the surface, these "contemporary attitude" spots are quite seductive. They're beautifully shot (by David Fincher, of Aliens 3 fame) and have a real cinematic pull. We get unexpected bits of early '70s music and appealing scenes peppered with well-delivered, clever lines. They're tiny little movie moments, as if Diner meets The Big Chill meets The Breakfast Club.

There's another contradiction here, the whole idea of contemporary nostalgia, or more precisely, EZ listenin' nostalgia. Youth reminiscing about the old suggests a question: Whose nostalgia is it, anyway?

The most likeable spot is "Pool Hall," wherein great-looking, freshly scrubbed, upscale Slackers–perhaps the kind of people who are in graduate school at Brown and model on the side– move around a B-movie backround talking about baby-boom era TV shows.

Of course, every generation searches for meaning. In the past, meaning was imposed by the enormity of world events, like the Depression, World War II, Vietnam. The suggestion here, however, is that this generation is informed not by war or economic ruin, and not even by TV, but by the shared memory of reruns. takes on the importance of the Codes of Hammurabi. But given that these guys are actually getting into it, the lines are enjoyable, like a guilty pleastu'e. In a little riff on the obvious classic Family Affair, one guy brings up Mr. French. "I loved him," one of the young women says. "Eeeh" gags her male friend. "He was attractive," she counters. The discussion then moves on to that seminal work, Gilligan's Island, and a new opinion dare: "Ginger or Mary Ann?" One of the women says "Ginger was a bimbo" in such a breathy deadpan that it seems she's delivering the secret of the ages.

There's something else here that's refreshing for beer imagery. In the past, the Budguys were adventurers, discovering bikinied natives. Here, the men and women hang out together as friends. That's also different from the latest ad trend of men complaining about why they'll never understand women, or vice versa.

"Garage" shows two guys talking about classic cars, and there are some good lines about Starsky and Hutch and a '75 Pacer. But "Wedding," about classic football, is more diverting because it seems so annoyingly glamorized. There's even a waitress who shakes up the place with two words (Ray Nitschke) and has eyebrows that seem light years ahead of Madonna's. And in the hyperstylized department, the table of bridesmaids could put Annette Bening and Demi Moore to shame. Maybe it's that classic Beechwood Aging.

Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)