Rad and Bad Ads as reviewed by Creative Director Eran Thomson.

Rad & Bad Ads: Red Bull & ZOA

Rad and Bad Ads No. 23-003


Red Bull

There’s nothing special about this other than it’s fucking nuts.

Just like all the other nutty things Red Bull does.

And has consistently done for decades.

They set the bar for branded content high.

Literally. Like, edge of the atmosphere high.

They paved the way for brands to build their own media platforms before it was cool.

And somehow, they keep coming up with more incredible, possibly dumb, sometimes illegal, usually dangerous, and always very insane shit.

You can’t look away.

Sure, they have the obligatory shot of a guy in a helmet taking a sip.

Which to me always feels contrived.

But you have to hand it to them.

They consistently make ads that don’t feel like ads.

And deliver heart-pounding work.

Rad and Bad Ads
with Eran Thomson



When you hit a certain level of fame it seems like two things sometimes happen.

One: Just about anything you put your face or name to can make money.

Two: People stop giving you honest feedback.

The Rock has made over $100M selling this stuff.

So he probably thinks this ad is rad.

Someone should have told him before he paid to run it during the Superbowl.

Dwayne seems like a nice guy, and I like his idea of an energy drink “for the everyday warrior who chooses to be strong, healthy, positive.”

That is a nice sentiment.

And not one I can recall seeing in this category before.

But instead of showing everyday warriors, they show beefcakes in the gym.

With giant chains around their necks.

Is that what people do at gyms now?

I wouldn’t know. I work out at home.

But I do know this ad isn’t for me.

And it’s probably not for most people.

Coulda Shoulda Woulda

I never like to say an ad is bad without offering some thoughts on how it might be improved.

After all, judging is easy and ideas are hard.

Most of the everyday warriors I know aren’t battling big chains.

They’re fatigued by never-ending Zoom calls, tantrum-throwing kids, and rising interest rates.

All of them would love a little more pep in their step.

Especially if it comes with less crap in it than some of the other monstrous beverages around.

So why not show them powering through relatable silly and stupid situations thanks to Zoa?

Or here’s a better idea.

I’m guessing the tribal mask on the label is a nod to Dwayne’s Samoan heritage.

Or his childhood in New Zealand where, perhaps he was influenced by Maoris.

Either way, that is potentially a very cool market differentiator.

Could one of the ingredients (Camu Camu perhaps?) have been used by ancient tribes to power them through battles, days-long festivals, or long paddles between islands?

The Rock could have uniquely and authentically owned that space.

Anyone can go to a gym and lift heavy things.

Sure, some can lift heavier things than others.

But when all your trying to do is get people to raise a few ounces of flavoured caffeine water to their lips…

It helps to give them a powerful reason.

Agree? Disagree?

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