DJ Fail: When Co-Opting a Culture Goes Wrong

DJ Fail: When Co-Opting a Culture Goes Wrong

Christmas has come early this year for those us who love a good bit of bad advertising. It appears that in an effort to prove just how "with it" they are, Smirnoff has released the above ad in hopes of proving that their nightlife is the best nightlife.

Other than, as my partner in crime explains to me, the girl's ill-fitting dress the obvious problem here is DJ Fail, as he's been dubbed, is spinning without having any records on his decks. That's not the only thing he's missing, but I would direct you to Chris Cox's takedown of the ad for a complete list of missing equipment.

But that's only a literal reading of the ad, and as I look at it more and more I find myself full of questions. But let's start with a basic one: What does this ad say about the Smirnoff Nightlife Experience?

1. Their clubs suck.

I know that's a lot to take away from one corner of what we can assume is a larger room, but why would I want to hang out somewhere that looks like a bad restaurant. I can't even fathom who thought those curtains screamed "cool place to party." And when did the "nightlife experience" start including well-lit rooms. I assume that the people who go to this club are awful, which explains why...

2. It seems to be OK to bother the DJ.

Look how excited she is to be up close watching him do his thing. Look how he's adding an extra bit of arm movement to impress her. Most DJs who take their craft seriously aren't playing to be bothered or take requests. That doesn't mean they have a stick up their ass; it means they want to do quality work. Then again, this guy clearly isn't a professional because...

3. The DJ's technique is awful.

Dude is trying to control the record with one finger which means he's giving up a lot of fine control when it comes to scratching. Unless he has a freakishly strong middle finger his ring finger should be up there helping out too. Of course, all the technique in the world won't help if...


4. The DJ has no equipment.

Here's the thing: if they had just photoshopped out the arm of the turntable this would have been a little harder to make fun of. At least then there might be an argument that the guy is using a software based set up with the worlds weirdest controller.

After all, who are we to say he doesn't have a midi controller just outside the photo? Still, with his lack of technique and equipment the only reasonable assumption is...

5. The DJ is not a DJ.

What probably happened is that this guy was in the club before the night started, saw the turntables and couldn't resist the urge to go up there and pretend that he's DJ Pauly D. Who wouldn't pretend to be the seventh-highest paid DJ according to Forbes? Ok, so I can understand why he might be pretending to be a DJ, but that just makes it weirder that...

6. His ladyfriend thinks what he's doing is interesting.

Consider her outfit: either she wants to have a good time tonight or she needs to do laundry. Either way, I don't think that pretending a guy pretending to DJ is cool was on her agenda tonight. Either she's just being real nice or...

7. They're both pretending.

This is not "the Smirnoff Nightlife Experience"; it's "A Smirnoff Nightlife Experience." So maybe this particular experience is "two people who know nothing about DJing cosplay being a DJ and fan."

It might not be the smartest bit of advertising but it sure is daring. The cosplay market remains largely untapped by the alcohol industry. Still, it's probably more likely that this ad was meant to target people who like going out and having a good time, which means that according to the ad...


DJ Fail: When Co-Opting a Culture Goes Wrong
Screengrab via

8. The DJ doesn't matter.

Realistically they could have paid an actual DJ to model for this ad, at which point the DJ in question would have explained the missing equipment, the problem would be fixed, and we wouldn't have this excellent photo to make fun of. But why pay the extra money for a DJ when we all know...

9. The music doesn't matter.

This is advertising. The people behind the ad care not for art or creativity. All they care about is co-opting a culture and making money off of it. And they really have nothing to lose because...

10. The ad worked.

At least people are talking about the brand. I don't DJ, I rarely drink, and yet I managed to write 857 words on the subject. People are writing blogs, passing it around on Twitter, and mocking it on Facebook. So what if the Smirnoff Nightlife Experience is built on a house of lies? There's no such thing as bad publicity and all that.

In conclusion, I look forward to DJ Fail's dubstep remix of "4'33"" to rocket up the charts at Beatport any day now.

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