Water Smarts: Jen Aniston Sex Tape Tries to Sell Water
What the hell happened to Jennifer Aniston? Remember back when she was the “it” girl? The hottest Friend? Pretty and attractive yet still slightly clueless as Ross the clod pined after her relentlessly. Back then even her hair was worshiped as a deity. Truly, Jen Aniston ruled the world. Then it all came crashing down. I don’t know if it was the show ending or the split with Pitt but even as she tried to leverage her TV fame into films nothing ever seemed to work the way it was supposed to. The result seems to be that, unfairly or not, everything the woman does lately seems to come off as slightly desperate even though I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I don’t know why this is the case. She’s not doing anything different, at least that I can tell. She looks the same (or better) and has the same comedic chops. Aniston has the goods – but it just doesn’t seem to click. Kind of like her new ad for Smartwater.
Smartwater, a product of Energy Brands is a vapour-distilled water with added electrolytes. It was the first product out of the gate when the Energy Brands company launched in the mid-nineties, and they’ve been adding stuff to the water ever since. Fruit flavours (Fruitwater), vitamins (Vitaminwater) and so on. Targeted at adults, the idea was always to push their brands as a better, smarter alternative to water from the tap. By 2002 their brand of drinks had become the top sellers in the enhanced water (you gotta love that term) category. And they’ve kept going, introducing such fresh water affectations as Vitaminwater10 (10 kilocalories(?) per eight-ounce serving) and Vitaminwater Zero (zip, zero, nada calories – really!). But even as the shizz and the shazz continued to build, the core product – Smartwater - needed some love. So they went with Jen in search of more friends.
The conceit of the ad campaign is a burning need to “go viral” – which these days means creating a video so awesomely addictive that folks move it around like VD at an Aerosmith groupies reunion. The hope is that Smartwater the ad is seen and experienced more often than even the biggest SuperBowl ad buy could deliver, for pennies on the dollar.
The spot should be funny. It starts off with a cute kid lip-synching to “Like a G6” by Far East Movement when Aniston comes in and asks what’s going on. Cranking the self-awareness vibe all the way up to eleven, she then asks the little poseur if he knows any songs about water. Aha! The rub. Then she faces camera and explains she’s here to talk about water but thanks to her geeky, mod helpers realizes that in this techie day and age talking about water isn’t enough and that “going viral” is the name of the game. Jen then proceeds to hit every major “viral” plot point known to humanity thus far – cute puppies, dancing babies (who suddenly go dirty), crying hippy with rainbow(?), crotch kick, hot chick hair tossing, an obligatory “Rachel hair” reference and the saleable title: Jen Aniston Sex Tape.
It should be great. The ad says funny, sort of clever things. It’s cynical, which nowadays is a necessity when everything in life is a sales pitch. It seems to hit all the right notes, but in the end the spot just doesn’t work for me. For some reason the whole piece feels.....forced, even when it isn’t. Can you force viral? Not really. You can get hits – as this ad has done – but viral is more real. True viral has a sense of urgency, of zeitgeist that this doesn’t. Jennifer Aniston (or any star for that matter) can’t force a show to work. It either does or it doesn’t and this ad just doesn’t work.
The term “trying too hard” certainly comes to mind. When we push at things more than we should it usually has the net effect of making us appear slightly desperate or needy when it comes to wanting things. And desperate or needy advertising carries a stench that is hard to shake. Is that the odor coming from Smartwater? I don’t know, but if you take the time to read the viewer comments below the YouTube ad, almost everyone seems to have a problem with something in it. Whether it’s the bait and switch of the title or the now-currently-defined crime of placing water in plastic bottles poor Jennifer can’t seem to win no matter what she does.
My God, when even the mindless drones can’t get on board how can Smartwater even contemplate going on? I feel for Aniston, I really do. Someone needs to get a Friends reunion special on the air ASAP – either that or maybe hire Charlie Sheen to tweet about her or something. It’s a horrible suggestion I know, but I only want her to get the love she deserves. Where the heck is Ross when you really need him?