LOS ANGELES-BASED Chiat/Day Inc. has long been considered one of California's more creative advertising agencies. Two of its commercials for Apple Computer have become textbook studies illustrating how advertising can approach dramatic art. But last year the agency was facing a new challenge in the intensely competitive wine-cooler market ("A Sizzling New Sell," May, 1986).
California Cooler had hired Chiat / Day's San Francisco office to take on cross-town rival Hal Riney & Partners, who represented E & J Gallo Winery's Bartles & Jaymes; Riney had created 30 commercials featuring two American Gothic farmers. Chiat / Day responded with a campaign of eight commercials that evoked Southern California's surfing mythology. The spots were music videos in which surfers in baggies and Annette Funicello clones made fruity wine coolers and boogied on the beach to "Louie, Louie."
"There were 125 wine coolers in the market, but we were the original one born on the beaches of California," says Fred Goldberg, chief operating officer of Chiat / Day Inc. "We made a strategic decision to protect that franchise and drive a wedge perceptually between ourselves and Bartles & Jaymes, which had a very different image."
Chiat / Day's commercials for California Cooler have won a series of awards for their creativity: three gold medals from the One Show put on by the New York Ad Club; Best Of, one gold medal and 10 silvers at the San Francisco Show, and the Sweepstakes award and four Bowls at the Belding Awards in Los Angeles.
"Commercials can only be as creative as the entrepreneurs that approve them, and here in California we're fortunate to have those kinds of people," Goldberg says. "The traditional wine-cooler commercial consisted of a bottle, several glasses and a bunch of snooty people sitting around a table. California Cooler let us use '60s music, throw in a few pineapples and take some chances."