• Didier Ernotte

Battle of the Coffees: George Clooney vs. Al Pacino

https://youtu.be/_ZILy1qRZTU Coffee with Al Pacino

https://youtu.be/DfyeXrdZZ1o Nespresso, “What Else” with George Clooney




When two heavyweights of the movie industry put their charisma on the line to

support a famous coffee brand, what will happen? Who will win?


Well... The suspense is short lived... The battle is one sided. Nespresso “What

else” is known worldwide while the Al Pacino coffee ad remains murky.

Why? Who is guilty? Who will win the award for the worst coffee ad?


The acting? No...The two stars are equally talented and perfectly play their

parts. The directing? No... The ambiance, the graphics, the colors are all great while

still totally different.


And the winner is .... The screenwriter.


Al Pacino tries his best to share a moment of his life around a coffee and explain

why coffee has been so important throughout his life. With all his talent, he

makes us live a bit of emotion: the black and white pictures are gorgeous, the

dialogue is beautiful. Yet, it doesn’t engage us, the emotional level is low (and

would have been zero without Pacino). The reason is simple: no conflict, no

experience, nothing really happens, there is no engaging story. It’s just some

beautiful lines, but it’s not enough, even with a wonderful actor like Pacino.


Now the masterpiece...


Nespresso’s "What else" ad is just perfect.


From the beginning, we see Clooney, who is listening to two gorgeous girls making comments about a cup of coffee, but Clooney thinks that the compliments are all about him... It’s the inciting incident.

After a few seconds, the audience (us) easily understands the confusion. It’s the start of a diffuse dramatic irony. This storytelling mechanism puts us a step ahead of the protagonist of the story (Clooney). The audience is told something that the protagonist doesn’t know. We get to realize it in a subtle way, a diffuse way. The screenwriter doesn’t say that the comments are about the coffee in a formal and very clear way. He makes us guess. That’s why it's a diffuse dramatic irony and not a set up dramatic irony.


The result is immediate. We start to live a conflict... We are uneasy seeing Clooney a bit full of himself making that mistake. It’s funny AND provides conflict. It’s both at the same time: we laugh in advance, waiting for the moment when Clooney will understand his confusion and we are also a bit uneasy, sad for him. We are wondering: “How is he going to react? How would we react in the same situation?” We are with him. It’s a subtle form of conflict, but still a conflict. Finally, Clooney clues in to what’s happening and steps forward to the ladies to be sure they are talking about Nespresso.


Then as the curtain falls, the resolution comes: Nespresso, What else? A moment of pure genius.

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