Sometimes, in this crazy, mixed-up, meme-based post-digital society of ours, we get caught up in trivial concerns like a Space Jam sequel when the real crimes against nostalgia, like the underrepresentation of Billy Dee Williams on our nation’s TV and movie screens, go underreported. But while we still don’t have a definitive answer on whether Williams will ever return to the Star Wars movies as smooth-talking cardsharp turned smooth-talking Rebel leader Lando Calrissian, at least Pabst Brewing Company is doing something about the recent lack of Billy Dee on TV.
Yep, Williams is back to his mid-’80s (the campaign ran from 1986 to 1991) gig hawking Colt 45 malt liquor, the billboards for which were a reliable marker of the exact point at which suburban moms would faux-casually reach over to lock their minivan doors throughout the late Reagan era. Williams’ TV ads for the beverage were also notable, not only for their smooth jazz-and-silk tie suavity but for the implication that Colt 45 gets the ladies lubricated faster than the average beer-adjacent swill thanks to its unusually high 5.6 percent alcohol content, thus the catchphrase “it works every time.”
We don’t see any of that in Williams’ new Colt 45 ad, which stays away from outmoded ideas about seduction and consent and instead focuses on informing viewers that there’s a new Most Interesting Man in town, and his name is Billy Dee Williams. (Especially now that Snoop Dogg is out of the picture.) The Pabst marketing team still has the problem of Colt 45’s objectively pretty unpleasant taste to contend with, but these are the same people who convinced a generation that drinking PBR was a viable substitute for a personality, so they shouldn’t have too much trouble.