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Super Bowl Ad Chat: Vinny Warren, on Wassup humor & preachy advertising

Vinny Warren was part of the team at DDB/Chicago who created the original "Wassup" super bowl ad, an ad that had such an impact people were saying "wassup" in the most annoying manner for years. Trivia, the wassup ad aired pre-bowl, not during the game - then they aired "Wassup girlfriend". The Wassup ad was very strange in a sea of same. Some people didn't get it, but those who did laughed their heads off. It wasn't the type of joke that anyone had seen before, in fact it didn't even seem to be a joke. With that in mind I wanted to ask Vinny Warren about this years super bowl, and the sudden turn to seriousness & somber. The "funny" ads this year seemed to fall flat. Vinny Warren now works as creative director at The Escape Pod, Chicago.

Vinny Warren: Firstly, thanks for picking up on the fact that Wassup, arguably, wasn’t funny at all. That was one of the things I liked about it. You couldn’t tell someone why you thought it was funny if you did think it was funny.

Dab: So true, it was impossible to explain to people. Now, why do you think most brands opted for heavy emotional sell this year, as opposed to humor?
Vinny Warren: I strongly suspect that social media emotional sogginess and schmaltz has infected advertising to a degree that isn’t good. For some reason, everything from tequila to tampons somehow now feel it’s their role to preach to consumers and tell them how to live their lives. It’s a recent and hopefully short-lived phenomenon. But it sure as hell is getting in the way of creating ads that will be embraced by ordinary folks.
Dab: What did you think of Bud's return to "this Bud's for you" tagline? Could they have used it better?
Vinny Warren: Funny, my Wassup! Campaign was the thing that finally killed off that tagline years ago. It felt old-fashioned back then and it hasn’t aged well in my opinion. It didn’t really have any energy and it kind of felt like it was coming from the Ministry of Beer. Which Budweiser arguably was at one point.


Dab: Do you personally prefer funny ads over somber ones during the Super Bowl?
Vinny Warren: Who doesn’t prefer lighter and more entertaining ads over preachy somber heaviness? People watch the big game to forget their worries for a few hours. And the commercials natural place in the event is comedic relief from the drama/monotony of the longass football game. It’s only advertising folks. Nobody I know looks to brands for life guidance and inspiration. There are exceptions to this, but precious few.
Dab: Name a funny super bowl commercial - not Wassup! - that you liked and thought was successful. (from any year, we got them all you know!)
Vinny Warren: That one is easy. The dancing chimp for E Trade. The best, most subversive use of the Super Bowl ever. And it looks like I shot it!

E*trade - Wasted $2 million

Dab: Do you think that the Super Bowl as a commercial watching event is going to continue as hyped as it has been, or is it losing its power now that every ad can be seen weeks in advance on 57 websites?
Vinny Warren: I think brands have to be mindful that Super Bowl commercials are intended to sell stuff and that a :30 spot is only a :30 spot, not the new Star Wars movie. I understand that they are excited about being in the big game but that excitement isn’t always contagious. Relax and make America love you. (that sounded a bit rude!)


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