this is clever, cute, entertaining, and has the potential to be awesome

About a year ago, I saw this commercial:

I’m not going to lie to you, Marge: I thought it was pretty awesome. It’s beautifully shot, it’s clever, and it doesn’t beat me over the head with some sort of BUY THIS THING message; it entertains me, which is what good advertising should do.

About a month ago, my agent sent me an intriguing offer: the people who did that commercial (it’s called The Date) were doing something new, set in the same universe, using the same band, and they were interested in having me participate. It was clever, it was cute, it was entertaining, and it had the potential to be awesome.

I told them that I’d love to be part of this thing in exchange for some shiny gold rocks, and after agreeing upon the number of rocks and how shiny they would be, Business Happened. I’ve been pretty excited to talk about this since we closed the deal, and today I finally can.

The agency that made The Date created this Facebook app called Heineken Serenade, that lets you build a song to ask someone out on a date. You answer some questions, like who you want to ask out, why you want to go out with them, what you want to do on your date, and why they should say yes. The app uses your answers to build a song* for you that goes on their Facebook wall. They send you an answer that goes back on your wall, and everyone wins. I think it’s really cute and clever, and some of you may know that clever is my Kryptonite. 

I made one for Anne, that looks almost exactly like this.

If you’re interested in making your own, you can do it here. If you do, and end up going on a date as a result, leave a comment and let me know, okay? I know at least one marriage has happened between people who met via my website (back when we had the Soapbox message board) and I think it would be pretty awesome if I helped nudge more people towards making a love connection.

*640 different combinations in 24 different languages, performed by Paul “Kiss” Kissaun, who did the song in The Date, which is cool.

41 thoughts on “this is clever, cute, entertaining, and has the potential to be awesome”

  1. It’s not working for me, probably because I’m one of those nerds that uses Linux. I guess I’ll have to ask my wife out the old fashioned way.

  2. LOL. No, I'm done babysitting; my kids are grown. What activity did you ask her to do? I wanted to ask Anne to go ostrich riding, but I was afraid she'd say yes, and then we'd have to find a way to do that.

  3. I would like to know if there is a sudden upsurge in the business of providing ostrich riding because of this app. Who wants to do an academic study?

  4. OMG I will totally do this now. I normally never let any app have access to my FB to keep it more secure, but I suppose it’s safe, eh?
    This will be fun. I am the kind of person that would ask my husband to go on an ostrich ride… or penguin surfing… or make a boat out of taxidermied weasels…. there are endless possibilities…. : )
    Thanks for the blog flood today! I have a cold so this is entertaining me. ALL THE INTERNET FOR ME!!!!

  5. Hurm…so, “show her my stamp collection” isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Damn, now I have to find stamps. The magnifying glass will be needed either way. #crossesfingers #hashtaginablogcomment

  6. I have to say this feels extremely ‘un-Wil-like’ to me. It was pretty unclear at the beginning what your involvement was, the blog post made the impression you were a much bigger part of the production of the app.
    It’s pretty clear now that you’ve basically been paid to promote this app via your blog and twitter. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems a pretty major shift in suddenly having sponsored content in your normal mix of conversation and sharing with the web community. Does the agency/client moderate your posts? Did you get to see the final version of the app before getting paid? How many more ads for Heineken can I expect if I continue following you?
    You don’t owe your ‘audience’ this info, of course, most celebrities don’t share that kind of detail, but I would have expected a lot more explanation from you on why you decided to do this, and the implications and conditions that led you to it, just based on your open book willingness to share in the past.
    Look at the way the Penny Arcade guys make a point to very clearly state how and why they work with advertisers for what I consider a clear and open communication with their community.
    Frankly, the whole thing feels kind of icky to me.
    Just one perspective from a fan.

  7. I’m not hoping that anyone here actually gets a genuine rejection, but I’m really curious to see what that response would look like. anyone got a link?
    heineken is one of my least favourite beers (do I need to qualify this by stating that I’m German?), but damn if they haven’t produced some of the best ad campaigns. the one with the walk-in fridge actually had me laughing out lout the first time I saw it.

  8. When we were talking about me promoting this app, I saw all the materials in advance, and made sure that the campaign was something I could get behind. I wanted to make sure that this wasn't limited to men asking women (it's not), and I wanted to make sure that it was funny and clever all the way through (it was). I saw the acceptance and the rejection, and I actually think the rejection is much funnier: a guy plays a dirge on the piano and just says the word "no" a bunch of times.

  9. > It's pretty clear now that you've basically been paid to promote this app via your blog and twitter. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems a pretty major shift in suddenly having sponsored content in your normal mix of conversation and sharing with the web community.
    This is correct, but I wouldn't say it's "sudden," since I've been blogging for a decade and Twittering since 2006. If you look at this as a percentage of everything I do, it's less than a tenth of a percent. The only difference between me pointing out this app that I think is cool and all the other things I think are cool is this helps me support my family. I feel really good about that, and I actually like that the FTC says we have to disclose when something is sponsored, so we *can* be open and honest about that.
    I started my acting career doing commercials, and only stopped doing them because I was too well-known to be an everyman, but not well-known enough to be a spokesman or endorser. I guess that I've earned the ability to be that endorser or spokesman online, and I feel really good about that, too. I'm asked to endorse/promote things all the time, but this is the first thing that came along that I actually thought was cute and cool, and not gross. I've turned away dozens of potential clients and their sponsorship money over the years, because I won't promote something that I don't like.
    > Does the agency/client moderate your posts? Did you get to see the final version of the app before getting paid? How many more ads for Heineken can I expect if I continue following you?
    The client does not moderate my posts. I'll never give editorial control of my blog over to anyone. I did see the app first, because I wanted to know exactly what I was getting into. This agency (which is one of the best in the world) understood that, and answered all my questions and concerns before I even considered being part of this. I'm not sure how many more ads or sponsored items you'll see, because I don't know who is going to be interested in entering a business relationship with me.
    Ultimately, the choice to follow me or not is entirely yours. If you don't want to see things that are sponsored from people you follow, then you shouldn't follow me, because I hope to have the ability to support my family through sponsorship in the future. If you choose to keep following me, though, I hope you'll understand that I won't ever agree to something that feels spammy or gross to me, and I'll never promote something that isn't awesome.

  10. thanks for the response! I’m now curious about what the videos directed at men are like. but to start off, I’ve decided to ask a good friend out ostrich riding, and I hope that she looks at her skype messages before her facebook feed, so that I’ll get the uh, rejection that I asked for.

  11. Oh, they're all gender-neutral. I just wanted to ensure that this app didn't force you to choose a member of the opposite sex, which it doesn't. Which is cool.

  12. Hey Wil –
    Thanks for the response. That’s all pretty much what I expected, my surprise was that everything you just mentioned in your response was not included in your original announcement. I’d say you tend to err on the side of over-explaining your motives and thoughts in general, so it added to the weirdness to hear very minimal background on where you sat with sponsoring something.
    I fully support your ability to profit via sponsorship, hell I work in advertising (though like many others question Heineken as worthy of your attention). The app does seem clever and well-produced and lord knows most ads aren’t.

  13. I’ll never promote something that isn’t awesome.
    So, do you actually buy Heineken beer, or is it really just their ad campaign (and money) that you think is awesome?
    I’ll be pleasantly surprised if you reply to this question since you wouldn’t want to lie, but you also obviously wouldn’t want speak badly of the product you’re being paid to advertise.

  14. I thought it was very cute and funny. I don’t drink Heineken or beer at all (just cannot stand the taste of it, and they all taste the same to me) but I do admit they have some clever and entertaining ads. I sent one to hubby asking if he wanted to go volcano lava surfing. He watched it on my account, but hasn’t had a chance to answer on his own account yet. I think he got a craving for some Heineken from watching it though, because he brought a can home last night to have with his dinner =p
    It’s definitely a fun app though =)

  15. I agree, I wanted to do the Ostrich riding; but I’ve heard those guys can be a tad tempermental…
    I settled for beep, it can mean anything in all fairness – though I am saddened by my other half’s instant thought to be drink.
    I have the tune stuck in my head now, may have to spy out some of those old Bollywood filums you guys are talking about.

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