Ad Nut
May 3, 2019

Red Bull takes credit for Hoang Le Giang's success

An ad featuring the Vietnamese adventurer and influencer is not subtle.

Here we go again. This is the second time this week that Ad Nut has felt the need to take issue with a brand that claims too much credit for the success of an impressive person (see "What's Paola Antonini's inspiring story doing in this air-con ad?").

This time it's Red Bull, with a film about Hoang Le Giang. An adventure traveller and influencer, Hoang was born with asthma and more recently found he has a congenital heart condition. But he is working toward a goal of climbing one of the world's highest mountains. Awesome.

But what powers his determination? If you watch the wordless ad above, it's not his indomitable spirit. No. It's Red Bull. The moment of product placement (starting at 1:38) is hammer-to-the-brain blatant. So much so that Ad Nut marvels that they didn't show Hoang chugging a can while hanging off an ice cliff just short of the peak, and then being pushed to the summit by a giant animated red bull. The ad falls short of that extreme—but not by much.  

Up until it goes off the rails, the video is beautiful. It's by VMLY&R Ho Chi Minh and Sweetshop director Noah Conopask. Ad Nut loves most of it, particularly the scenes of Hoang as a young boy climbing a bookcase—with safety ropes. Although a total lack of product placement would have been fine, there would be no cause for complaint if the filmmakers had, for example, placed some cans of Red Bull near to Hoang during his training, or even showed a quick cut of him drinking one during a break.

But that wasn't enough for someone. So instead we get an over-the-top heroic consumption scene. It's so jarringly out of tune with the style of the rest of the work that Ad Nut suspects it was a late addition. We get Hoang aggressively downing a can of Red Bull, followed by an overlay of animated red bulls smashing their heads together as he powers up. The product becomes directly responsible for his ability to break through a literal and figurative wall. 

And just to make it clear that the brand wants credit for the man's achievements, a press release informs us that:

Hoang shows us it takes more than just the dream to make it happen. Red Bull gives him the edge to charge ahead.


Well, thank goodness for Red Bull then! Ad Nut can't imagine how anyone does anything in their life without it, and is on the way to buy a case as soon as possible.  

Actually, Ad Nut fails to understand any of this. Why would a brand painstakingly find someone with an inspiring story, spend a big budget filming that story, and then negate the value of that story by overreaching to claim credit for it? Doesn't that alienate the very audience of fans that made the influencer look like a wise choice? And why would Hoang (or Paola Antonini in this week's earlier example) sign off on having their achievements co-opted so thoroughly? Isn't that degrading? Is Ad Nut the only one who prefers a little subtlety? Isn't simple association enough? And most importantly, does this kind of thing actually work?


Client: TCP Vietnam & Thailand
Chief Creative Officer: Beer Poonnotok 
Creative Group Head: Nick Nakpil
Copywriter: An Tran
Senior Art Director: Neena Felizzi Hernandez (Nichi)
Agency Producer: Charm Wall
General Manager: Rachel Laffey
Senior Account Director: Andre Chen
Account Manager: Ngoc Le Nhu
Line Production: CreaTV HCMC
Production Company: Sweetshop
Director: Noah Conopask
Managing Director & Executive Producer: Laura Geagea
Sweetshop Producer: Catherine Law
CreaTV Producer: Daniel Gordon Jones
CreaTV Head of Production: Irene Trinh
DOP: Marty Williams 
Post Company: Smoke & Mirrors Bangkok
Offline Editor: Keith Ngiau

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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