Forbes – Why ‘Puppymonkeybaby’ Was The Best Commercial Of Super Bowl 2016
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: the puppymonkeybaby is horrible. A terrifying creation with the legs of a baby, the body of a monkey and the head of a pug, the puppymonkeybaby needs to do little more than announce its own existence and distribute Mountain Dew Kickstart in order to burn itself into our collective retinas and eardrums with a sort of grudging acknowledgement that yes, puppymonkeybaby has performed his job with almost shocking grace, at least to the degree a puppymonkeybaby can exhibit grace.
As a commercial, the puppymonkeybaby is an unqualified success. I’ve been thinking, bringing with it an awareness of Mountain Dew and its new “Kickstart” beverage that it’s hard to imagine I would have acquired otherwise. It has people talking about it, myself among millions on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Even right now, I’m having a bit of trouble stringing thoughts together, mostly because the words “puppymonkeybaby” won’t leave my brain.
It’s pretty easy to read deeper into puppymonkeybaby, if that’s what you’re about. It’s not a puppymonkey, after all — who would care about that? It’s a baby, too, using those little legs to turn itself not only into an unspeakable eldritch horror but also a pretty obvious manifestation about our own fears of adulthood, parenting and the future. But who cares? Puppymonkeybaby sure as hell doesn’t.
This feels like the logical evolution of the Old Spice school of advertising, where the company just throws out a bunch of absurdly awesome things to demonstrate not only their product’s absurd awesomeness, but also the corporation’s winking acknowledgement of the whole situation. We saw plenty of that last night, like when Jeff Goldblum playing piano runs into George Washington and Lil’ Wayne cooking out. That’s old hat at this point. Puppymonkeybaby takes that same idea and applies it to our nightmares rather than our dreams. My nightmares do tend to stick with me much longer than my dreams, after all.
The puppymonkeybaby makes sense as a sort of shock art: the sort of thing that would might have induced a wave of pearl clutching amongst the elites of high society sometime in the 1920s, or a broader swath of the population sometime in the 90s, designed now not to illicit any specific reaction, but rather just to hurl itself out there with enough strangeness to produce a steady stream of tweets and Facebook posts beginning with “WTF.” It’s unmistakably geared towards social media, but with a little more finesse than one of those ads just throwing hashtags around or promising cash in exchange for publicity. It understands the sort of bizarre memes that get traction on the internet, and that anything with a corporate sponsorship needs to be that much weirder in order to stake its claim.
I don’t know if we’ll get another puppymonkeybaby. I certainly hope that Mountain Dew’s advertisers know better than to let the little guy overstay his welcome. It’s bizarre enough that any attempt at imitation is bound to fall flat, but that certainly won’t stop people from trying. It’s going to be an entertaining, if likely brief, ride. Myself, I’m in New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to seeing who manages to spend all of Lundi Gras putting together a puppymonkeybaby costume for Fat Tuesday.
(An honorary mention for best ad goes to Peyton Manning’s Budweiser plug. Apparently Anheuser-Busch didn’t even pay for it, but Manning has forgotten how to speak in any language except product endorsement)
February 18th, 2016