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Brands Ought to be Tools

Um_6 Smirnoff has a new viral video out on YouTube, but that's not so unusual. However, a creative director from Smirnoff's ad agency, Kevin Roddy, said something really interesting. He says that brands need to stop being advertisers and become tools. Really, I swear, see below! Actually, I think this whole video was designed as a place to use the line "Raw Tea in the parlor makes the ladies holler." I have a product shot here which is a lot clearer than in the video.

060816 WSJ.com: Yo! Smirnoff Raps for Malt Beverage, 2006-Aug-16, by Suzanne Vranica

WSJ: So the lack of branding is supposed to make people think it's not an ad?

Mr. Roddy: It's not that people don't know it's an ad -- it's just that it doesn't feel like an ad. People give it more room. If it feels too much like a commercial, they won't pass it along because they don't want to be seen as becoming part of the advertising game. If it's done right, they see it as fun.

WSJ: How did the lack of the Smirnoff name or the product sit with Diageo?

Mr. Roddy: The client bought into it. They understand that advertising is no longer about talking at someone, it's about engaging with the consumer. To do that, you have to play by different rules. It requires you to be more entertaining. Brands aren't advertisers anymore. ... At their best, they're tools, something consumers can get involved with, experience and take part in.