The Super Bowl, an expensive sporting event in which two large groups of men play a game between blocks of commercials, approaches. That means we’re about to start seeing a lot of high-profile advertisements made by or featuring big, notable names not commonly associated with 30-second spots. Cheetos has already released a teaser for its big at-bat—yes, a teaser for an advertisement—which serves as an origin story for MC Hammer’s biggest hit. Squarespace will run an ad starring Winona Ryder. And Planters straight-up murdered Mr. Peanut.
Now Budweiser, of galloping horses and “wassaaap” fame, has released one of what will probably be several ads from Anheuser-Busch InBev. It’s directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for directing. And it’s... this?
Patriotic Budweiser commercials are nothing new. Snarky Budweiser commercials are nothing new. A snarky patriotic Budweiser commercial seems kind of new. The 60-second spot, title “Typical Americans,” features inspiring acts from, yes, “typical” Americans. As produced by agency David Miami, the ad juxtaposes these extraordinary moments—some big, some intimate—with a sardonic voiceover that lists off stereotypes about Americans (some of them kind of weird: Are we known for constantly taking our clothes off in public?) The idea is to debunk those stereotypes—it’s a whole #NotAllAmericans kind of thing, up to and including a shot of the Free Hugs Guy (activist Ken E. Nwadike, Jr.) hugging a cop in riot gear.
Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice president of marketing, explained the ad’s aims to Adweek:
2020 is a year where we have the Olympics ahead of us, and the elections ahead of us, and so we wanted to invigorate everyone to come together [and] realize their potential as Americans, all while enjoying a refreshing, cool Bud.
In addition to Nwadike, the ad features World Cup champs Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris; marathon runner Hannah Gavios, who in 2019 completed her second New York City marathon since she fell off a cliff while running from an attacker, a fall which left her partially paralyzed; a firefighter; two people who went out of their way to help someone else, one on a snowy road, one on a train car, and others. They are all admirable acts! Kathryn Bigelow is a good director! The spot is a 60-second ad for Budweiser that basically implies that Americans are Bud-drinking heroes and all those mean old foreigners just don’t know us very well!
Who knows, your mileage may vary. (Adweek called it a “patriotic tearjerker.”) But we’d rather have the horses.
Kathryn Bigelow, go ahead and cash that check. You deserve to make a self-satisfied Super Bowl commercial every once in a while. Cash it, buy yourself a margarita or something, and we’ll pretend this never happened.
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