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How The West Was Won by Advertisers

Hollywood movies of the Wild West are the bedrock on which America’s narrative film industry was built.

Many Film Historians however, are of the opinion, that the Western Movie genre offers a distorted and inaccurate view of America’s history that is way past it’s ‘sell-by-date’.

Not a view movie directors and producers like Quentin Tarantino, who is an avid fan of Italian film director Sergio Leone’s ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ filmed in Almeria, Spain, would subscribe to.

And most certainly not Advertisers and their Advertising Agencies, for whom Westerns have proven to be a remarkably resilient movie genre for appealing storytelling themes, Wild West parodies, and cinematic scenarios.

1. LYFT, Going West

Wieden+Kennedy, New York, USA

UBER’s biggest North-American rival, is mobile-app transportation company LYFT, based in San Francisco, California.

Directed by filmmaker Noam Murro, LYFT’s cinematic ‘Going West’ commercial, of a wagon train travelling along the Oregon Trail in 1836, stars actor Jeff Bridges.

His stellar delivery of a superbly penned monologue, takes a ‘dig’ at the competition by expanding on Lyft’s slogan ‘that it’s not the destination that matters, but rather how you get there’.

2. Colonel Sanders, The Most Wanted Man In Kentucky

Advertising Agency: Sid Lee, Paris, France

Directed by filmmaker Martin Jalfen, ‘The Most Wanted Man In Kentucky’ scenario, for the launch of KFC’s Kentucky Burger, is a fun Wild-West parody.

Everyone in Kentucky it seems, the good, the bad, and the ugly, want a taste of the Colonel’s sensational burger, and line up in what is humorously portrayed, as KFC’s first ever ‘drive-thru’.

And in true Wild-West custom, there is also a KFC restaurant where patrons can exit through the window.

3. Doritos, Cool Ranch Bassquake

Advertising Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, USA

Pepsico’s Doritos ‘Bassquake’ dance-battle, directed by filmmaker Lance Acord, is an amusing parody of a classic ‘Western Standoff’

Starring Hollywood actor Sam Elliott, and American rapper, hip-hop artist, singer and songwriter, Lil Nas X, the commercial also features a surprise cameo appearance by American singer-songwriter and actor, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Backed by a soundtrack inspired by Li Nas X’s Billboard-topping single, “Old Town Road”, Sam Elliot and Lil Nas X, deliver very ‘cool’ performances that are highly engaging and great fun.

4. AT&T, The Train

Advertising Agency: BBDO, New York, USA

Filmmaker Dougal Wilson’s superb direction of AT&T’s ‘Wild West’ genre commercial, is highly watchable.

Entertainingly combining live action drama and animation,’The Train’ has a surprising ending that very effectively communicates the commercial’s consumer proposition.

5. EDS, Herding Cats

Advertising Agency: Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, USA

The phrase ‘herding cats’ is a metaphor for the impossibility of controlling the uncontrollable. The analogy likens the chances of finding an effective solution for complicated problems to that of successfully herding cats.

The award winning Electronic Data Systems commercial was directed by filmmaker John O’Hagen in a rewarding, tongue-in-cheek, documentary style. It was aired during the 34th American Super Bowl, and unsurprisingly, became one of the game-viewing audience’s all-time favourites.

6. Chicken Licken Soul Food, The Bootless Bandit Durango

Advertising Agency: Joe Public United, Johannesburg, South Africa

Directed by filmmaker Peter Pohorsky, and filmed on location in Almeria, Spain, the fully integrated campaign was spearheaded by a series of five 30 sec commercials that were finally edited into one continuous story called, ‘3 Pieces For Durango’.

Set in a fictional town called Harmony, this entertaining ‘Spaghetti Western’ parody of the ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ box-office hit, depicts Durango, with only one boot, strolling through town in search of his soul-destroying missing boot, and longed for ‘inner peace’, of not being called a ‘bootless bandit’.

7. Budweiser, Outlaw

Advertising Agency: Anomaly, New York, USA

Directed by filmmaker Ivan Zacharias, this amusing western parody stars Swedish, stage- and-screen actor, Peter Stormare, as the ‘Texas Outlaw’ and features Elton John’s song ‘Tiny Dancer’.

The commercial appeared during the live coverage of the 45th Super Bowl football championships at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and was a great hit with TV viewers.