Technically, sex and alcohol aren't meant to mix when it comes to advertising alcohol. That hasn't stopped it from happening quite regularly over the years, with the Tui girls and an erection pun from Independent Liquor's Woodstock brand treading a fine line. But Barnes, Catmur & Friends has continued the 'Crack a Woody' joke with a big new campaign featuring former Baywatch star and PETA crusader Pamela Anderson.
The previous series by Colenso BBDO featured Grant 'Wolf' Bowler from Outrageous Fortune, who aimed to show that it was acceptable for men to be given Woodies by mates' mums and girlfriends, and the three ads starring Anderson that were shot by Charley Stadler of Flying Fish follow a similarly awkward formula ("I've seen all your movies ... some of your movies. Just the action ones.")
Anderson flew to New Zealand in February to film the ads, which will be on air for two months from March 6 and again in October and November. While her star isn't shining quite as bright as it once was, Anderson still wouldn't come cheap and Independent is also planning on spending $2.46 million on in-store promotions, broadcast sponsorship around 192 NRL games on Sky and year-long online and social media campaign.
Barnes Catmur & Friends' creative managing partner Paul Catmur wasn't able to be contacted, and neither was PPR's Charlotte Milton, but the Crack a Woody campaign appears to go back as far as 2002 (when one of its ads in Brass magazine was censured by the ASA) and seems to have originated in Australia (Woodstock has also recently launched an ad for the Australian market that shows a town full of barrel rollers and aims to trumpet its 'genuine Kentucky bourbon' heritage).
And while nothing's changed on the inside of the can, the logo and packaging design have.
"Woodstock’s new look is faithful to its brand, but full of new energy, authenticity and attitude," says a release. "The new packaging allows for simple identification within the range and firmly reinforces Woodstock as authentic Kentucky bourbon."
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously and neither do our customers," says Woodstock marketing manager Tim Beck. "Pamela’s fun-loving personality fits well with our brand, and we are sure she will resonate strongly with our customers, many who grew up with her on the small screen. Woodstock’s new packaging and logo give the brand an extra boost—and helps our customers pick between variants."
In 2012, Independent Liquor’s website said RTDs represented 12 percent of the total liquor market in New Zealand and its RTDs had 60 percent market share, led by Woodstock (the country's biggest bourbon and cola brand), Cody’s and Cruiser.
"While these have made it to this position through solid below-the-line promotion, the company’s 'Is it OK to crack a Woody' TV campaign has really hit the mark with the down-to-earth New Zealand guy, helping keep the Woodstock bourbon and cola at number one."
The campaign runs fairly close to the ASA's code of advertising liquor, which states "Liquor advertisements shall not suggest a relationship between liquor and sex by placing immoderate or immodest emphasis on romantic situations or by using illustrations or poses which are provocative or suggestive". But a complaint about the Mate's Mum ad in 2009 was not upheld.
Back in 2011, ALAC offered its submissions on the code and said: "From an alcohol harm reduction lens, it is difficult
to see how particular advertisements (such as the Woodstock ones) could be seen as observing a high standard of social responsibility. In fact this view was also shared by some of the Board members who considered the complaint on the Woodstock advertisement: 'The appearance and behavior of the young man in the advertisement and the use of the double entendre breached a number of code requirements and the advertisement was therefore in breach of Principle 2 of the Code…”'.