Any day Nick Kroll and John Mulaney suit up as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland–“Ohhh Hello!”–is a good day. In a new ad for Cadillac, everybody’s favorite aging New Yorkers and tuna sandwich aficionados get a ride around the city in the new XT4, chauffeured by Awkwafina, who is playing Val the Vlogger.
OK. First of all, this is legitimately funny. (“I would never run from a friend.”) But not only because of the writing (Gil’s pronunciation of “podcast” FTW) but also for its sheer randomness. Kroll, Mulaney, and Awkwafina chatting in a Cadillac for three minutes. And hey, let’s throw in a parting shot with 2018 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model Danielle Herrington just for the hell of it. It seems capable of appealing to quirky comedy fans, cool kids, and dudes who still buy the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for some reason.
Here is where we make the distinction between great content and great branded content. There is a difference. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but there are times when the former is not the latter. Case in point, this Cadillac ad, created with Kovert Creative. Aside from the fact they’re driving around in a Cadillac, is there anything about this that tells me anything about the brand or its personality? Is Cadillac funny? Mix up the vehicle choice, and this video could be an ad for absolutely any brand that slapped its logo at the end.
That isn’t brand content, it’s content sponsorship. Which is totally fine! Associating yourself with fun stuff can certainly endear a brand to an audience. But then why a one-off three-minute video trying to pass itself off as a car ad? Content sponsorship works better if it’s consistent. Now, if you gave me a new “Oh Hello” short web series for free, “presented by Cadillac,” that would illustrate how much the brand values quality comedy, my time, and my wallet. While awesome, this spot feels like it could just disappear into the gaping maw of daily digital video content without getting much notice. And that would be unfortunate.
When you have the budget to create something as funny and elaborate as this, it just seems like there should be more of a strategy than George, Gil, and Awkwafina driving around New York that one time. Free idea: A five-part series in which they have a different driver each time, played by Kovert clients (Mulaney and Awkwafina included) like Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, and Will Forte. And call it . . . wait for it . . . Comedians in Caddies Getting Kvetchy. Either that or just hours of live-streaming corporate softball.