Working in a big city high rise means that at some point, you’ll likely have a surprise encounter with someone who appears to be hovering on the wrong side of your window. No, it’s not Tom Cruise filming the latest Mission: Impossible, but some brave soul who washes the windows of tall buildings. The shock of seeing a human being dangling at an incredible height just outside your window would be considerably lessened, however, if the guy happened to be handing out free booze.
In a new web ad for Ultimat vodka, created by New York-based agency Amalgamated, real professional window washers in New York and Chicago agreed to get decked out in business suits to serve, basically, as vertically oriented bartenders. As they went along their routes up the sides of various buildings, instead of squeegees, they bore signs inviting office workers to come outside for free drinks. The spot, directed by Xander™ of production company East Pleasant cuts briefly to local news footage, but lingers on the psyched reactions, which include high fives and feigned guzzling.
The idea for the campaign came from an insight about premium vodka consumers, and a desire to break free from the club-centric cliches. "Ultimat Vodka is an ultra-premium vodka. When we started working with them last year, we saw that every competitive vodka shows the same thing in their advertising: beautiful models, limos and nightclubs," says Amalgamated chairman and chief creative officer, Eric Silver. "But the ideal customers for ultra-premium vodkas are affluent people who work their asses off. How come every other vodka was talking to them like B&T kids going out on the town, rather than as successful white-collar types who work too hard?"
Given the brand’s tag line of "Find Balance, Find Ultimat," the agency’s efforts, says Silver, have centered on "finding this white-collar audience where they are working and, more importantly, WHEN they are working too hard. We’ve advertised on financial websites, or in the elevators at places like Goldman Sachs…all after hours, when people should be out at the bar with their friends. The next logical step felt like intercepting people at their offices and inviting them to a party."
As you might imagine, the logistical challenges of executing the idea were many. They included finding a building amenable to hosting the stunt (one with an operational window washing rig) and finding a real window washer who had on-camera presence. "We wanted buildings with investment banks and brokerages, so there are many privacy and financial regulatory issues to contend with," says Silver. "Then there was the logistics of the shoot. You’re always battling glare. And weather. We delayed the shoot twice because of rain only to shoot on a day when it was well over 100 degrees."
And as for the office workers, most, though not all of them reacted in the expected manner. "In general, the reactions were very positive," says Silver. "Lots of high fives, big smiles, and notes written back to the window washer. Though, in New York, one of the employees of a company had extreme vertigo upon seeing our window washer and literally ran out of the office. And, in Chicago, a guy who was ex military thought he was being assassinated and reached for a gun that wasn’t there."
The spot is part of a broader campaign that speaks to finding balance which has included other summer Friday initiatives including "The Ultimat Invitation," which sees brand representatives showing up at the corporate offices with a Build-Your-Own-Cocktail bar and "The Ultimat Groomers," whereby patrons of Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers can kick back with a drink whilst indulging in the manly pursuit of "a haircut… complimentary manicure and a 10-minute scalp massage finished with a chilled facial compress."