In “Don’t Wait”, a new commercial for Doublemint, paper flies out of the photocopier like petals in the breeze. A 1950s style doo-wop soundtrack plays as a girl in glasses gazes across the office at her secret crush. With the romance building, comedian Jia Ling enters the scene doing a lasso dance and chanting an incantation to ‘stoke that fire’. She’s a goof, a wonderful inversion of the cliched advice to play it cool in romantic situations.
Conceived by BBDO South China, the commercial was shot over 15 hours in Hong Kong. Humor is a challenging genre, but Creative Director Kevin Lynch says it felt right for their client.
“The Doublemint brand is all about connecting people,” he says. “It’s about getting over that hesitancy we all have to say hi to someone new. That moment is a lot easier with a smile on your face, so humor seemed to make a lot of sense.”
Jia, a comedian best known for her crosstalk (xiangsheng), is excellent in the ad, silly but earnest. It was something of a risk casting her, however, as she had never appeared in a commercial before.
“Jia Ling was perfect for the role because she was approachable, funny, and seemed to embody the bravery the role needed. It wasn’t a concern to us that she hadn’t done much commercial work before,” Lynch says.
While crosstalk is primarily a verbal form, much of the comedy in the Doublemint commercial comes from Jia’s physicality. This was a quality BBDO had identified in her earlier work.
“If you look at her previous acts, she really uses her body language to bring humor to the situation – no matter what person she is portraying,” Lynch says. “She really puts herself out there in a confident way, and that’s the spirit of the brand we were trying to capture. There was no choreographer involved. We went into the shoot with a few ideas, but gave her the freedom to improvise, and many of the most memorable moments were all Jia Ling’s contributions.”
The director of the commercial is Greg Bray, a Berlin based creative agency veteran who often makes comedic spots. Chinese directors also pitched for the job, but Bray won out, Lynch says, because “he had that quirky, humorous look we thought would be perfect. Greg’s approach is to be more improvisational on the set, and this too aligned perfectly with the strengths of Jia Ling.”
Given the success of the ad, it seems a likely candidate for sequels. Lynch is coy about the possibility.
“This spot was the launch of a new global campaign. We wanted to debut the campaign in China because this is the place where Doublemint has such a long and cherished history. As for future plans, we don’t want to ruin the surprise, so we’ll say ‘no comment!’ ”