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San Miguel ‘Find Your Rich’ / Pablo

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For the third year running, San Miguel is publishing an alternative ‘rich list’ which features 20 people wealthy not in money, but in life. Previous years have seen it supported by short spots which feature those on the rich list – wildlife photographer Göran Ehlmé starred in a 2016 ad which saw him dive underwater, swimming with and photographing dolphins and whales.


This year’s rich list ad is more universal: rather than focusing on the lives led by individuals on the rich list (which, let’s face it, often require considerable material wealth), it looks at experiences and interactions which we all share.


The first 30 seconds are a flurry of realistic images of wealth: stock exchange screens, mansions, money being printed, mixed with humorous and even sad depictions. A woman stands proudly in front of a life-size portrait of herself; a man eats dinner alone at a massive dining table. The orchestra music which paces the ad gets faster, even frenzied, throughout the first half of the spot, emphasising the emptiness of material wealth. The shot of a hamster running round and round on a wheel perfectly symbolises the feeling of endless acquisition without really gaining anything.





And then the music slows: it becomes gentle, euphoric, and the fast-paced transition between classical images of wealth is replaced by shots of intimate sensory experiences. We see a woman rising out of water on a sunny day and hands running through sand. There’s a particular focus on our relationships with each other – a child falling asleep on his father’s back, strangers helping each other across the street, and friends meeting for a drink, going on holiday together, or practicing dance moves on a lunch break at work.


Brands are working harder than ever to position themselves as the centre of our lives and communities. McVitie’s recently rolled out a Pixar-style animated ad featuring a crane driver who feels disconnected from his colleagues on a construction site – they laugh and joke together miles below him while he operates the crane alone, and ruefully wishes for some company. The heart-warming ad closes when his workmates send up a cup of tea and McVitie’s biscuits on a piece of metal lifted by the crane. Sarah Heynen, vice president marketing at Pladis, said the campaign was about ‘enabling everyday moments of real human connections’, focusing on purpose over product. Nestle has adopted a similar strategy: a funny spot rolled out for the new KitKat Senses last month sees the product used to dissipate tension when a lost Victorian time traveller crashed into a party.


Advertisers want to demonstrate to consumers that their products can bring us together – San Miguel is not exceptional in this. But it has certainly found a way to distinguish itself from those with a similar brand proposition, and especially from other beers. ‘The best things in life are free’: it’s a cliché, but it’s overused for a reason, and San Miguel has reminded us all just how true it is with this year’s rich list ad. Where previous years might have had us glowing with envy at the wonderful lives of those on the list, this time, most viewers will be left reminiscing about childhood memories and nights out with friends – at least some of which are sure to feature a cold beer.