How Google's Waze Doomed Local Ad Hero the Inflatable Tube Man

Yet he rises again in this breezy tale

Pity the inflatable tube dancer. Those smiley/creepy roadside flappers beckoning folks into car dealerships, banks and waffle emporiums across our great land packed way more ROI in the days before digital, location-based advertising.

Take, for example, the downtrodden dude in the amusingly absurd film below from Waze, touting the Google-owned navigation app's local ad services for small-business owners. The guy's awfully blue. Actually, he's was blue to start with—literally, that's his color. But now, thanks to mobile technology's prowess at driving traffic to stores, he gets sacked from work and his life really hits the skids.

"For years I gave them everything, just to bring in customers," he says. "Before I knew it, I was yesterday's news. Sad … forgotten … angry."

Alas, his flappy arms are useless in a bar fight, and he's reduced to attending a support group for unemployed costumed brand-boosters. (That guy in the hot-dog suit really needs a hug!) Riddled with anxiety, he lies awake all night, feeling utterly deflated. (Much to Mrs. Tube Dancer's dismay.)

In the end, though, our hero opens a dance studio that thrives thanks to Waze, and he's flying high once again. (Which seems fitting, as the app's effectiveness choked off his fortunes in the first place.)

Creative duo Too Short for Modeling (aka, Tal Rosenthal and Noam Sharon) wrote and directed the 90-second spot, working with the Waze Ads team, Google Tel-Aviv and We-Do Productions.

The team eschewed CGI, and each inflatable character was hand sewn.

"These things are so loud, we had everyone on set wear earplugs" as they danced in the breeze, Rosenthal tells Muse. "Before the shoot, we took one to Noam's house over the weekend and realized we couldn't do any tests, unless we wanted the neighbors to call the police and get ourselves arrested."

Later, as the cameras rolled, "the actor in the pub was way too gentle and relaxed to get in the mood for this violent scene, and would barely hit the doll," says Sharon. "Lucky for us, we learned that he is one of [soccer legend] Diego Maradona's biggest fans. So all we had to do to get him extremely mad was to tell him that Leo Messi is a much better player. That got us the shot we needed."

Of course, air dancers have been featured in ads to great effect for years. (Wave to the folks, Caravana!) This particular effort rises above most of them, owing to sheer silliness and awesome attention to detail (hot-dog man's mustard motif, that tawdry neon "Crappie's" sign at the bar, the inflatable pooch's droopy ears and sad snout).

Overall, the spot strives to articulate "not only the advantages of our product, but also the vision behind it," Waze says, adding that the brand views itself "as an innovative digital billboard, and we hope this video, as part of our online activity, allows us to reach more business owners who are looking for new and up-to-date tools to attract customers."

The spot launched this week across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

CREDITS

Head of Global Waze Starter Ads: Ori Daniel
User Acquisition Campaign by Abagada, Led by Dena Ilani
Directors and Writers: Tal Rosenthal & Noam Sharon ("Too Short for Modeling")
Google Tel-Aviv Head of creative and video: Amir Ariel
Google Tel-Aviv Creative director: Idan Kravitz
Google Tel-Aviv Ecosystem manager: Itamar Cohen
Google Tel-Aviv Producer: Adva Navon
Google Tel-Aviv Creative strategist: Sophie Allweis
Production Company: Hamutal Peles, "We-Do Productions"

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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