Advertising now that cocreation matters

Snapple spot There's a wonderful Snapple ad on TV at the moment.

You can see it here.

The dialogue:

Now Snapple has got healthy green tea, tasty black tea, real sugar.  What's our slogan?

Bester stuff!

Stuffy stuff!

Good stuff for bettering…stuff.

Guys!  The best stuff on earth just got…better.

Good stuff, Greg.

I'm ok with it.

We're dating.   

It is a brainstorm gone terribly wrong.  People are so pressed to be innovative, they will say just about anything.  Bester stuff?  Stuffy stuff?

But the genius of this ad turns, I think, on the performance of the woman who delivers "good stuff for bettering…stuff."  This is not the winning ticket in this particular lottery, but that's ok.  She's dating the guy who delivered the winner.

A couple of things to note here:

What sells this ad is a fine, anthropological attention to detail.  This is what happens in brain storms these days, especially now that America is addicted to continual creativity.  What sells the ad is an exquisite care in crafting little social performances.  The way people deliver these lines, and especially the way the woman flashes her eyes and nods her head for the last line.  These flash past us, but we are (or at least I am) grateful recipients of this mastery of the art of observation as delivered then by this mastery of the art of advertising. 

But what's odd is that these details have almost nothing to do with the brand or the message in this ad.

Which leads me to wonder if some ads are perhaps a two step process:

Step 1: the cocreational peg

This is the content within that makes us love the ad, and look forward to seeing it again, and talk about it to our friends, and write blog posts about it (like this one).  This is the content that inspires us to engage in the cocreational activity with which we welcome and embrace the ads we care about.  This is the content that makes us fans and champions.  Let's call this the Jenkinsian content, after the discoverer of the value created by the impassioned fan, Henry Jenkins. 

Step 2: the rest of the ad

Then there is the rest of the ad which is about building the brand, trumpeting the proposition (better stuff) and making meanings for both.  This is conventional meaning manufacture.  This is the old work of advertising.  Indeed, it is the only thing we used to do in the creation of ads.

Now that ads leave the agency half done, as it were, now that they depend upon the cocreational activity of the consumer, Step One matters more and more.  And now that Step One matters more, the agency and the client want a new and delicate eye for cultural content.


Jenkins, Henry. 2008. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Revised. NYU Press.

McCracken, Grant. 2005. Culture And Consumption II: Markets, Meaning, And Brand Management. Indiana University Press.

McCracken, Grant.  2009.  Ads that live, ads that die.  This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.  February 23.  here.
(for more on the use of nonverbal behavior in selling an ad.)


I can't find the exact details for the creative team responsible for this very fine ad.  But here's the team who did another ad in the campaign.  (Happy to correct this list, if someone would kindly supply the correct information.) 

Agency: Deutsch, Los Angeles
President/Chief Creative Officer: Eric Hirshberg
SVP, Group Creative Director: Chris Ribeiro
Copywriter: Ryan Scott
Art Director: Ryan Hitzel
SVP, Director of Integrated Production: Tom Dunlap
VP, Executive Producer: Victoria Guenier

Appeal for info:

If anyone knows the name of the actors in the ad, please let me know. 

Irritated outburst:

Why is it still so hard to get access to a clean copy of the spot and the names of the creative team.  If anyone has a solution here, I would love to here it.  (No sites only accessible by subscription, please.  I want readers of this blog to be able to go there.)

6 thoughts on “Advertising now that cocreation matters

  1. Steve Portigal

    I’m glad you had a link to the video so we could see what you are talking about. Because bad ideas don’t signify a bad brainstorm. I’d suggest the opposite, that they signify a good brainstorm, where people are being creative, thinking divergently, following that impulse that improv taps into to simply give voice to something in your head. But what this video shows is a bad brainstorm – the ideas are spat out quickly, to get the “right” idea ahead of the other person, there’s no building on the ideas of others, no one is “present” and thus able to be effectively divergent.

    [I know it’s just a damn commercial and it’s a bit embarrassing to debating a close read of it, etc. but I’m going with it, so thank you]

    I totally agree that it’s a bad brainstorm, but I didn’t appreciate that from your description alone. It makes me a little sad for all that we know and teach about what makes these things work, it’s really damn hard to have those wonderful flow moments where everyone is firing on all cylinders, in sync. I guess that’s why there aren’t a thousand Led Zeppelins, for example.

  2. everysandwich

    Yes, there are spots with tiny little moments that seem to “make” a spot. (The one for me is the Nextel wedding commercial spot when the guy at the end flips the cue card that says “I do.”) But just so I follow, am I then a cocreating by sharing my opinion of that moment here? Incidentaly, the spot makes me no more likely to chose Nextel because of general experiencescell service shopping in which, no matter how I configure options, I end up paying the same.

  3. Rick Liebling

    Consider how much commentary is being derived from this, a 15-second commercial. Great work by the agency here to pack so much into such a little time frame.

    Ah but yes, will I buy a Snapple now? Tough question, I am a semi-regular Snapple drinker, but just as happy to drink Vitamin Water or Arizona Ice Tea or something else. This is a really tough category as the influx of competitors has created a commodity category for me. I look at cost first. Now, loyal Snapple-ites were going to drink Snapple regardless, so this ad isn’t for them. But for a guy like me, what am I seeing here (besides an entertaining spot) that is going to get me to drink a Snapple? I need a stronger reason to believe than just a clever wink and nudge.

  4. peter spear


    it seems to me that you’ve been on fire lately and this post confirms it.
    it reminds me of two things:
    first, Pepsi’s stop motion doll “do-not-smoke-do-not-litter-do-not-use-cell-phone’ spot at the theater near me.
    the voice performance of the female cel-phone character so totally nails the buffy/wasp/valley girl tonality that i am continually entertained.
    it’s a credit to the writers, as well, (we imagine, in hindsight) to identify the moments that require the delicacy of these kinds of nuance.

    and second, it seems that there is the kind of meme war that Kalle Lasn talked about happening in miniature in advertising. i wouldn’t imagine it hard to spot a number of advertisements who’s efforts to deliver this kind of co-creational moment fall terribly flat, yet whose intentions appear (at least to yahoos like us watching) nonetheless.

  5. ken

    A better example might have been the Boulder guys who created the Burger King Flame A Friend ad on facebook – created a lot of buzz amongst people (and professionals) but Burger King is tanking

  6. Tomas Hrivnak

    Grant, in fact, EVERY AD is (or should be) a two-step process. Or even better, every ad should have the ambition to integrate the two perspectives: the “entertainment” perspective AND persuasion perspective. Or that’s what I’m being told by all major ad effectiveness research tools.

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