Viral Review: Justin Timberlake Steals The Limelight With Bizarre Ad For Tequila

Sauza 901: No Limes Needed

Rating: 7/10

Whoever said there isn’t room for the ultra-weird in advertising clearly isn’t looking hard enough. While the mainstream of advertising remains cozy, life-affirming and ultimately safe, there’s still space on the social web for whacked-out creatives to fly their freak flag.

Old Spice famously revived their public image with a wildly popular, long-running franchise of ads which basically drop-kicked rationality out the window and embracing the surreal. And we mean, really surreal. Meanwhile, the viral success of the Commercial Kings (a.k.a. Rhett & Link) shows that an absurd touch can help even the tiniest of brands. And God help you if a co-worker sends you Khanna/Reidinga’s spoof ‘Energy Noodles’.

With that in mind, turning one of the world’s biggest superstars into an anthropomorphic lime doesn’t seem so out there. ‘No Limes Needed’ is the first major online ad from Sauza 901, a lime-infused tequila brand founded by musician and proud mirror-owner Justin Timberlake. While George Foreman sells grills and Dan Aykroyd sells vodka out of crystal skulls (genuinely, look it up), the spot finds Timberlake going further than your average angel investor, suiting up in a costume straight out of a Tropicana ad. And apparently, it was all his idea.

Shot in mockumentary style, ‘No Limes Needed’ relates the glorious story of the humble lime, rising to prominence thanks to the tequila shot craze of the 1980s.

Our hero is Rick “Sour” Vane, a once great lime who speaks of past glories from the side of a filthy swimming pool. It turns out that Sauza 901’s lime-infused tequila has obliviated the need for Rick and his citric ilk, leaving them searching out alternative forms of income (hint: limes make a great massage tool).

Of course, Vane is actually Timberlake, unrecognisable under a bulbous head, bright green body paint and knobbly skin.

Having already played the founder of Napster and a man afraid of clocks, ‘No Limes Needed’ finds JT stretching his acting skills to new heights. All kidding aside, the spot is actually very funny, with cracking lines and hilarious period set-dressing. Addressing the camera, Vane tells us “Pucker face: that’s what we cured. Along with scurvy”.

From a creative standpoint, ‘No Limes Needed’ gets the tone of the ‘rise and fall’ narrative perfectly right. Aping films like ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, it’s a silly treat for anyone who loves those kind of films.

And similarly, for anyone who knows that the protagonist saying “It can never get better than this!” is the beginning of the nosedive. Timberlake and agency La Comunidad riff playfully on these tropes against a garishly-coloured backdrop.

Released last week, ‘No Limes Needed’ currently stands at under 27,000 shares on Unruly’s Viral Video Chart. While the alcohol marketing is self-limiting (there certainly won’t be many kids sharing ‘No Limes Needed’), the ad’s slightly underwhelming sharing record has more to do with the content.

Unlike the in-your-face bombast of Old Spice’s weirdness, ‘No Limes Needed’ is fairly underplayed. Shock and surprise are two incredibly powerful emotions for promoting online sharing, but Justin Lime-berlake simply lacks the punch of Terry Crews exploding repeatedly.

While Sauza 901’s ad runs with a very funny concept, it might simply be too niche to reach a wider audience online. There’s also another lesson to learn here. If the CEO of your company happens to be one of the most famous celeb faces in the world, maybe don’t bury them under four inches of lime make-up.