Messrs. Radio Ha-Ha

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America's unsung heroes are finally getting their much-deserved place in the spotlight. Thanks to DDB/Chicago's "Real American Heroes" radio campaign for Bud Light, the country is now hip to the contributions of overlooked movers and shakers like Mr. Foot Long Hot Dog Inventor, Mr. Garden Gnome Maker, and Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer. The creatives, led by CD John Immesoete, continued to reel in the accolades for the second year in a row, grabbing trophies at the One Show and the Clios, and snagging nothing less than the Radio Advertising Bureau's Grand Prize at the 2001 Mercury Awards.

Immesoete, who thought up "Heroes" with creative partners Bob Winter, Mark Gross, and Bill Cimino, says the campaign didn't hit the bull's-eye right away. "The ideas weren't necessarily hard to come up with, but you have to associate the announcer's voice with a bombastic guy who's basically clueless to what he's saying," Immesoete notes. "You have to understand the irony, and you have to do it without being too mean-spirited. You really get the voice or you don't."

The production wasn't a breeze either. "The first time we recorded, it didn't work very well," recalls Immesoete. "It had the wrong talent on it and the music was wrong." The initial idea was to have the spots parody the over-the-top explosive sound of beer advertising from the '80s, but the original backing tunes sounded more Bette Midler than overblown '80s rock. Immesoete felt that something in line with Survivor's Rocky III theme song, "Eye of the Tiger," would be more fitting. Luck had it that Sandy Torano, president of Chicago's Scandal Music, which the agency had enlisted for the job, was good buds with Dave Bickler, lead singer of none other than Survivor. His booming rock-ballad vocals are now on all the spots. Moreover, the creatives were worried about finding an announcer who could perform with just the right amount of denseness and naivete. They scored with Pete Stacker, a VO artist with a long history of traditional beer advertising. "That's when it really started to work," claims the CD.

The campaign has been such a hit that Immesoete and crew have created 16 more spots. Upcoming ads will feature guys like Mr. Toilet Paper Refiller, Mr. Nudist Colony Activities Coordinator, and Mr. Male Fur Coat Wearer. And if there's any doubt about the success of this concept, here's the ultimate clincher: It's going to TV.

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