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Episode Seven: Man And Machine
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For one of its Super Bowl ads, Budweiser has tapped Helen Mirren to deliver an anti-drunk driving message in a way that only the A-list British actress could.
"If you drive drunk, you, simply put, are a short-sighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting, human form of pollution -- a Darwin‐award deserving, selfish coward," Ms. Mirren says in the spot, as she stares into the camera from a restaurant booth with a cold Bud and a hamburger in front of her.
The 60-second spot by Anomaly represents the first time Anheuser-Busch has run an anti-drunk driving ad in the game since 2005, according to the brewer. That year a spot by DDB Chicago showed Cedric the Entertainer doing a designated driver dance.
Running ads about serious issues during the Super Bowl -- when most viewers just want to have fun and stuff their faces -- has its risks. Just ask Nationwide, which was widely mocked for running an ad in last year's game about the death of a young boy due to a preventable injury in the home. Weight Watchers also failed to gain much traction from a spot about over-eating.
But Bud seems to be in a good position to pull it off thanks to Ms. Mirren, who delivers the message with a mix of British charm and wit. In the ad, which is called "Simply Put," she introduces herself as "a notoriously frank and uncensored British lady." In her tirade, she tells viewers that "chances are you're a fun, solid, respectable human being.
"It's a drunk driving spot, which is not a new topic for us as a company to address. But it is a very new approach," said Brian Perkins, U.S. VP for the Budweiser brand. "Because I can't recall a drunk driving spot being this direct and provocative. And that was the whole intent -- to spark a lot of conversation.
"Helen is part of that strategy," he added. "She is an unorthodox choice for an unorthodox message. You don't expect her in a Budweiser commercial, let alone a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial." Bud, he said, wanted a spokesperson with "stopping power and gravitas." And Ms. Mirren "has a unique ability to charm you and chide you at the same time. And that is a very rare thing."
The brewer will be supporting the ad with a microsite called StandWithBud.com that will allow people to do zip code searches and get a list of available ride services in their area. Users can also take a pledge to #GiveADamn and share it on social media, selecting from phrases inspired by the ad, such as "I will not be a selfish pile of poop."
Bud promises to donate $1 on safe ride programs for every time the hashtag is used until 11:59 p.m. Sunday night (up to $1 million). The use of the hashtag will also create an emoji that shows a Bud bottle beside the image of a hand dropping a set of car keys.
Budweiser will also run a second 30-second ad in the game by Anomaly called "Not Backing Down." The spot continues the "Brewed the Hard Way" campaign that proudly declares the nation's third-largest beer as a "macro" brew. The campaign broke during last year's Super Bowl and grabbed a lot of attention for taking a shot at craft beer snobbery. This year's ad will include the brand's iconic Clydesdales. But the horses will not be portrayed the way they have been in recent Super Bowl spots, when they mingled with cute puppies.
This year's spot -- which marks the 27th time the Clydesdales will appear in a Super Bowl ad -- shows the Clydesdales "in a new light, highlighting their strength, power and size as symbols of the hard work and care that goes into brewing Budweiser," according to the brand. A-B InBev does not plan to release this ad before it airs in the game.