“It turns into a global pop culture phenomenon, a historic fact – whether you like it or not” – Michael Weinzettl on viral ads and the popular Jung von Matt spot for Edeka supermarkets.
Video: Edeka "Supergeil featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein" by Jung von Matt
I tend to roll my eyes a bit when ad creatives say something along the lines of “and then we’ll do a viral,” as if a viral was something you could actually will into existence. I’m sure many have tried but most have failed to deliver on that promise made to their clients.
On the other hand, if an ad does go viral and by definition takes on a life of its own, classifying it as “good” or “bad” advertising somehow almost doesn't matter anymore. It turns into a global pop culture phenomenon, a historic fact – whether you like it or not.
This is pretty much what happened over the last four weeks, for reasons I find impossible to explain rationally, with a three-minute video produced by top German agency Jung Von Matt for their supermarket chain client, Edeka. They have more than 7,000 stores throughout Germany and, despite mildly amusing commercials (a couple of which even feature two stoners on a late-night shopping spree) have a stolid if not downright square image and advertising to match this.
In the video, which at the time of writing has almost 5.5 million views on YouTube, a 58-year old musician and entertainer Hans-Holger Friedrich (alias Friedrich Liechtenstein, hitherto only known within Berlin’s techno club scene) can be seen enjoying, sometimes in some decidedly weird ways, the various own-brand products shoppers can find at the stores.
There is a creepily sexy undertone (as well innuendo involving "pussies", wieners and oysters) to all this as he’s prancing and dancing around the supermarket. This is not least of all because Liechtenstein with his sonorous voice describes everything he finds there in superlatives, particularly as with the adjective that makes up the title of the video "Supergeil".
The German “geil” (pronounced guy-l) is a very common – in every sense of the word – term akin to “awesome,” but with the added meaning of horny, sexy, even wanton. (The adjective has evolved in its meaning, 50 years ago it was only used in polite society to describe overly rich and sweet food.)
Edeka’s “Supergeil” commercial is based on a song and clip of the same name by “Der Tourist”, released a year ago. It follows the same concept as the commercial except that it's not set in a supermarket: Liechtenstein walks and prances, eats sausage and potato salad and looks at things while describing everything as “supergeil”.
To me the Edeka video is a bit reminiscent of Weiden & Kennedy’s “Whatever’s Comfortable” commercial for Southern Comfort from two years ago. This also featured a middle-aged, paunchy man - this one in Speedos, walking along a tourist-filled beach to Odetta’s “Hit or Miss”. Der Tourist’s video is set in a wintery dark and dour Berlin and its lyrics seem to reference the Berlin hype that has drawn millions of tourists who revere the German capital’s 24-hour club scene.
Video: Der Tourist feat. Friedrich Liechtenstein "Supergeil"
The agency is credited with having given Edeka a funkier image but I wonder to what avail really, and whether the tremendous waves the commercial has created (abetted by the US blogosphere that described it as a German variation on "Gangnam Style") is quite what they had in mind. They may be hugely surprised themselves at just how attention-grabbing their little experiment has turned out to be.
At any rate, the spots for Edeka that follow up this internet sensation show things to be pretty much back to normal: nothing terrible if slightly cloying, on the whole rather unexceptional supermarket advertising – compared to what Wieden & Kennedy London have done for Tesco, or McCann Manchester for Aldi supermarkets in the UK in recent years. Whatever one may think of the new Edeka spots, they are surely a far cry from “supergeil.”
Video: Aldi "Tea" by McCann, Manchester
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