Dos Equis and the Most Interesting Man in the World
Ideology and Purpose
Dos Equis beer ads feature an elderly gentleman known as the most interesting man in the world. Each commercial depicts him in a sense of adventure and usually surrounded by beautiful women. The idea behind showing an elderly gentleman in a commercial for a product that is mostly consumed by college age kids to people in their mid 30’s is to give them the feeling that if they drink this beer they can be like that man. Showing “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in all the situations when he was younger appeal to young mens’ self-conceptions which then focuses on older gentlemen who serve as a model of masculinity. In one commercial a one-liner describing the man states, “His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body.” What young man is not going to find that intriguing and want to experience this themselves? Presenting their beer in this classy manner showing a man considered to be the most interesting man in the world speaks to a different side of younger guys and makes them want to be just like him. To be like him, they must drink Dos Equis.
Context of Propaganda
The context of this kind of ad is directed towards a specific demographic and culture. The culture to which I am referring is the culture of beer drinkers. With the extensive selection of different kinds of alcoholic beverages that people have to choose from I personally think that beer tends to be the most popular and also the cheapest. That being said there is also a huge selection of different beers to choose from. So how does a company make their product one that sticks out among all of the other choices? By appealing to the largest part of said beer drinking culture in the sense that these young men can one day be the most interesting man in the world simply by drinking their beer. This is the context the propaganda is portraying by acting like this product can lead them to an adventurous life and being surrounded by beautiful women.
Identification of the Propagandist
The propagandist in for these ads is clearly the Dos Equis brand which is now owned by Heineken. There have been a ton of different commercials put out by the company displaying “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in so many different situations as a younger man and even as a grown adult. With all of these commercials it shows how the company itself is trying to speak to different audiences and different types of young men. Recently the brand has become the official sponsor of the college football playoff which has a huge following. So adding their brand to this kind of event would bring even more of a following to them and get more attention from another type of audience being sports fans.
Structure of Propaganda Organization
In 2009 when beer being imported into the U.S., which became known as craft beer, took over and became popular, sales and popularity fell by around 4%. Dos Equis sales however shot up 22% simply due to the genius ad campaign of their “Most Interesting Man” commercials. A big reason this happened was because these ads began going viral. In more recent times you see so many different memes on social media and all over the internet featuring this man which spreads awareness of the brand. Dos Equis sales from 2015 still seem to reflect this as they have risen another 10% which brings total growth since 2007 to 34.8%. By subtracting the younger, anonymous “characters” and replacing them with someone older, “not-quite-grandfatherly Johnathan Goldsmith”, and focusing on a specific person, it gave the audience someone to focus on. In addition to the rising sales trend, the largest measurement of the campaign success was the public attempts to seek these ads out. The amount of searches on YouTube for these ads will usually display results that aren’t even put out by the Dos Equis company itself. Earlier I mentioned the many different memes that have been put out incorporating the “Most Interesting Man”. Enough have been made to rank them as the best 1 – 50 memes made using this ad campaign.
The obvious target audience here is individuals over the age of 21 based on the legal drinking age. However in order to narrow that target down the had to do some research. This information ended up showing that, “More than anything else, beer drinkers really want to be seen as interesting by their friends.” Based on this idea, it was determined that it had nothing to do with the beer itself or the taste, but instead how it makes you look while drinking it. Instead of showing how this product will make you interesting they took the idea of the most interesting man in the world and made a satire out of it. The use of social media says a lot about the target audience as well. They at one point had a running promotion on Facebook where fans could submit lines to be used on their commercials. I’m not sure if it is still going on though.
The Heineken company displays the Dos Equis brand in multiple ways utilizing the media. The main ways it seems to be used are TV advertisements and on Facebook. Most people would recognize Johnathan Goldsmith as the most interesting man in the world if they were to see him and would also realize he was the spokesman for Dos Equis beer. The commercials put out by this brand do a great job drawing people in with the clever lines that make them feel like they can become the most interesting person in the world if they drink this beer. Their use of Facebook is brilliant in the fact that it uses engagement in a way that most companies don’t. The promotion they run on social media, which allows fans of the beer and commercials, to come up with lines used in commercials is genius. This strategy gives their fans a chance to see their original ideas appear on television in the commercials which could cause them to tell their friends and help get them engaged with the brand as well. The other main way the media has played a large part in this brands propaganda is through the use of memes. The interesting thing about these memes is that they are not put into circulation by the Heineken company or by the Dos Equis brand. They are actually created by normal people and serve almost as a sort of free advertising in a sense. While the memes usually have nothing to do with the beer itself or even the company, they still use the face of the Dos Equis brand and include a version of the brand’s tagline. These two elements serve as a way to spread awareness for the Dos Equis brand.
I’ve addressed earlier in the post some of the special techniques that have been used by this brand to appeal to different people and push the popularity of the brand to higher levels also increasing growth in sales. These techniques included the commercials featuring the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, the Facebook promotion allowing engagement by regular people coming up with lines for the commercials, and the creation and utilization of memes. Granted the last technique wasn’t technically the Dos Equis and Heineken company’s own but it still helped to fuel the growth.
The latest technique that is being used is one that I feel is exactly where the brand needs to go. They have decided to retire Johnathan Goldsmith’s character as the most interesting man because they feel that people are losing interest in him. As an attempt to relate to their younger fan-base and the millennial drinker, they intend to introduce a likely younger and just as interesting man to take his place. This idea speaks for the Logos aspect of rhetoric in the brand’s propaganda. Using a younger man to appeal to a younger generation is a smart move on the Heineken company’s part due to the fact that most of their current demographic are young men between the ages of 21 and early 30’s. The retiring of the older gentleman signifies the end of an era, whereas bringing on a younger man signifies the beginning of a new one.
Going back to the memes created using the most interesting man in the world, this speaks for the Pathos aspect of rhetoric. The reason behind this being that people generally put normal everyday events on these memes. The Pathos part comes in when people realize that they can in some way or another relate to the most interesting man in the world just by coming up with a phrase describing an everyday situation. An example of this would be “I don’t always finish a bottle of shampoo, but when I do, I leave it in the shower for two months.” Another element of Pathos that comes into play with this consumer engagement is when the company allows them to come up with one-liners which explain why the most interesting man is so interesting. A couple examples of these are, “Sharks have a week dedicated to him,” and “Presidents take his birthday off.” These relate to Pathos because they are commonly known events (Shark Week, President’s Day) that people everywhere in the United States in some aspect “celebrate.”
I think the largest display of audience reaction to the types of propaganda and this campaign put out by the Heineken company’s Dos Equis brand would be the 34.8% sales growth between 2007 and 2015. This is a fairly large percentage when it comes to dollars and cents and the rate of growth did not really start to increase dramatically until the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign took off. The other example of audience reaction we see are the countless amounts of memes you can find all across the internet but especially on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The sharing of these memes on social media have also impacted the following of this brand because with every person who sees and shares them advertises the brand to their friends which can then spread to those peoples’ friends. These memes have become so popular and have seen so many impressions that a top 50 list of the best “Most Interesting Man” memes was compiled which means there were at least 50 created but most likely more.
In the future, the Heineken-owned brand hopes to make an impression on not only younger members of the beer drinking community with actor Augustin Legrand who has taken over the role as the Most Interesting Man but also to the rising amount of Mexican-American members of our population. Legrand is fluent in Spanish and can add that to the new commercials. The other factor that appeals to this part of the culture is the fact that Dos Equis was originally brewed in Mexico by a German brewer. Mexican products have done increasingly well in recent years, especially in the growing $100 billion dollar United States beer market so by appealing to the growing Hispanic population it will only serve to help that market grow even more.
I was not able to find any counter-propaganda specifically geared toward the Dos Equis brand itself or really even to the beer market. The only things I have found that counter this type of propaganda would be the don’t drink and drive ads and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving groups, also known as M.A.D.D. but those really only address drinking and driving.
Effects and Evaluation
Throughout this post I have referred to this ad and campaign as propaganda but in actuality I personally feel that it is more of a persuasion piece. Due to the fact that it is not specifically geared toward drinking beer in general but instead is influencing and convincing people included in their audience to drink a specific type of beer. I think they do a great job at directing their brand to specific people by appealing to their target audiences hopes of being seen as more interesting. The campaign was ultimately effective which we know by looking at the sales trends and growth over the years. I think that focusing on young men’s wishes to be viewed as someone people would want to talk to and learn about by showing them a person who drinks this beer and achieving all of the things the most interesting man achieved is what helped sell this brand.
I also feel that changing up the campaign by retiring the older version and bringing on a newer, younger version of someone just as interesting is really going to help keep the brand relevant and engage more of the target audience in years to come. The relevance of the memes will always be there because they are mostly shared over social media and there is nothing showing a slow down in the use of those sites anytime soon.
Stevenson, Seth. “The Quirky Genius of the Dos Equis Ad Campaign.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 25 May 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. <http://www.slate.com/articles/business/ad_report_card/2009/05/the_most_interesting_man_in_the_world.html>.
“Dos Equis | College Football Playoff.” Dos Equis. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016. <https://www.dosequis.com/college-football-playoff>.