I would have used a “Westworld”-like, dual-timelines approach, but the Dos Equis brand opted to slightly rework its “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. Out was septuagenarian spokesperson Andrew Goldsmith, who actually has had a pretty interesting life himself. In his place came French-born Augustin Legrand.
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The ad introducing the change aired during Dos Equis’ exclusive deal during the NCAA Men’s Basketball playoffs. It stayed fairly funny, with a nice bit of meta-narrative to blend the change instead of shoehorning the new actor into a role — no offense to the Fresh Prince’s two “Aunt Vivs.”
But just who is this Legrand? Why, with such a charismatic spokesperson, would Dos Equis choose to rebrand their “Most Interesting Man in the World” character with a new actor? Above all, why does this campaign work so darn well?
Whether you have a vested interest in the Most Interesting Man in the World (it’s a Heineken brand) or simply are interested in the Most Interesting Man in the World, the answers aren’t really that complicated.
A new man.
Legrand is interesting in his own right. He was born in France. Now, before you wonder how a French actor could possibly play a Hispanic legend, consider that the original MIM was a Jewish man from New York. Legrand does have a leg up on his predecessor, though: He’s trilingual. He speaks English, French and Spanish — the last of which he (naturally) showed off in the first ad.
Perhaps most interesting, Legrand is an activist. For many years has been a voice for France’s homeless through his Les Enfants de Don Quichotte, or The Children of Don Quixote. This activism led to his election to the regional councilor for Ile-de-France for the Europe Ecology-Green Party. I have to assume he will continue his activism even with his newfound fame.
An old idea.
What made the MIM campaign so successful? It has a lot to do with casting. Goldsmith had a very Papa Hemingway look, with a dash of Mr. Steal-Your-Girl. But all his feats were in the past and shown via flashbacks. It’s clear that with the campaign’s new direction, Dos Equis is trying to change the narrative a bit. The MIM’s feats now are shown in the present.
Still, leading-man charisma alone couldn’t have helped Dos Equis sales raise by 17 percent even when imported beer sales were down overall. The ads were exceptionally well-written and endlessly quotable. The formula was simple: “He’s so X, Z.” Each spot explained why the MIM was so great and how the world responded to this greatness (usually with something so implausible, it was hilarious). The tagline is the clincher: “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
Why did Dos Equis decide to switch gears and go with a different actor? In a New York Times interview, Dos Equis’ vice president for marketing explained that Goldsmith had simply “aged out,” as many actors do. To summarize Andrew Katz, the brand needed someone to connect with young beer drinkers while keeping the original character’s rough roguishness.
In the new commercials, Legrand does just that — with a distinctly more contemporary and fresh approach. One ad finds him racing sand skiffs and sparring with samurai, among other activities. The formula remains these same. And brand sales remain up even in the wake of the switch, proving change can be a very good thing for a company.
All in all, not too shabby. Especially since the campaign almost didn’t see the light of day.