Following on from our previous piece on Pizza Hut and bizarreness, this month we are taking a look at how Amstel’s “Bridges on Bridges” campaign utilises the Mere Exposure effect to effectively leverage the star power of Jeff Bridges.

Briefly, “Mere Exposure” is the term used to describe the positive correlation between familiarity and preference (this is also sometimes alternatively named the “Familiarity Principle”). The more interactions your brand has with someone, the more familiar you become to them, which in turn engenders a more positive opinion of your brand. With enough success this can also bleed into the authority bias as familiarity transitions into sector seniority.

Using Mere Exposure requires both an understanding of your target audience and a subsequent frequency of engagement. It can however, if not managed or measured correctly, lead to an increasingly negative opinion of your brand if your message isn’t hitting the right spot (or if you make a bad first impression, this could render all forthcoming engagements of a similar nature a continually negative experience). 

There are ways to circumvent this though. Ease the process or even bypass some of the difficulties faced when using this method of engagement. The most popular way of doing this is to leverage an external source of familiarity – that of the celebrity, or increasingly, the influencer. Brands piggybacking on a celebrity’s already accrued familiarity is a longstanding tactic. From century old potteries leveraging the royal seal to drive sales, through to breakfast brands creating mascots to represent their products for a new audience, through to contemporary sports sponsorships and the rise in influencer based engagement marketing.

Specifically in this example, we all know (not personally unfortunately), Jeff Bridges. We have a reassuring familiarity about what we expect him to say, and how we expect him to act as he riffs from his firmly established and popular “Dude” persona. We can trust that he is a cool guy and has been for 30 years, he just wants the best for us, right?

While the ad clearly uses bizarreness to make the most of some great punmanship and anchor the visual concept (much like the previous Pizza Hut example), it is Jeff Bridge’s warmth and personality that really convey the brand’s message that their product is best enjoyed as a symbol of “togetherness”. 

Finally, the last behavioural touchstone is that message of togetherness. This is an example of a social incentive, where the brand message broadly asserts that the social reward of coming together (and ultimately enjoying a nice pint of Amstel) is “a powerful thing, man.” By overtly combining this message with the product placement, we subconsciously associate the two, and place greater value on the social aspect of the brand/product over the physical cost of the product.

By the time the next ad starts, we still remember the odd image of our kind-of friend Jeff Bridges chest deep in an Amsterdam canal, telling us to come together and relax for a nice pint of Amstel. 


You can watch the ad here.

By Stuart Keates

Senior Creative Artworker