Something about this Belvedere Vodka commercial has haunted me since its constant airing during the holidays last year. I must’ve seen it fifty times. I’m not shilling for Belvedere here. Hell, I’ve never even tasted the stuff, but I can’t get this ad out of my head.
Directed by the chronically flannel-wearing fashion photographer Terry Richardson, the spot is set in a self-consciously “downtown” party featuring Richardson himself snapping pictures of fellow party-goers, including actor/director Vincent Gallo and graff artist Earsnot. The soundtrack, which sounds drunk itself, was composed by Gallo and The RZA.
It’s obvious by the parties involved that Belvedere is trying to position itself as the hippest vodka at the party. So obvious in fact, so over-the-top, that it ceases to matter. The ad-overdosed cynic in us all sees Gallo greet guests and scrawl a face on a painting with a marker, Earsnot saunter in with a hottie on his arm, Richardson blatantly snapping his point-and-shoot, Gallo under the piano with some woman, RZA mumbling over a drunken bassline, and it’s all so contrived…
…but, it’s also so cool. there is something qualitative about this ad that nails exactly what I think Belvedere was shooting for when they conceived it. Somehow all of this pretense, all of this obvious posturing, gives us a thirty-second glimpse into the world of cool. Somehow, the ad works.
The problem with advertising in general is that it’s ineffective. That’s why it’s everywhere. As much as the industry tries to quantify and coordinate dollars to sales, theirs is a qualitative enterprise. Did Belvedere sell more vodka because of this commercial? No idea, but it’s rare occasions like this that we see the art of advertising shine.
Here’s the commercial in question (runtime: 0:30):