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How Budweiser Just Won The Superbowl and The Internet

Being knee deep in writing about awesome/unawesome brands for my next book (due out September 2012) I had just submitted my 60,000 word file to my editor of awesome, Shannon Vargo at Wiley.

And then Budweiser Canada farked it all up for me and went and made one of the greatest Superbowl commercials of all-time. I’m already a Bud Light Lime freak and then this happened.

For the 3 people that don’t know, hockey is life in Canada. I don’t even play and it still holds a special place in my heart. You don’t even have to like the sport to love this. When I saw this video today, it connected on a level that most brands try but never ever reach.

You want people to share your brand? Do something awesome like this:

The look on the guy’s face sitting on the ice at the end made me tear-up. This was made for a Superbowl commercial in Canada, but will out last the game itself. That should be the goal of any campaign: make it so awesome that it achieves word-of-perpetual-mouth-motion.

For those that may miss it, these guys play recreational hockey. They aren’t in a pro league, there are never any fans at their games, they do it for the love of the sport.

I was told about the video by a Twitter friend Ameer Khan who was one of the players on the ice! I asked him what he thought of Budweiser now, his reply:

bud has made a connection with me that will last a lifetime. I wasn't my brand of prior. Now with every Bud there's a story.

Now if that isn’t a testimonial to a success for a brand, I don’t know what is.

Well done Budweiser Canada, you win the Superbowl and the Internet.


Many people have commented and tweeted that this is a direct copy of the Improv Everywhere video from 2008:

So, what do you think? Does it change the impact of the new one?

I’ve had campaigns ripped off from past client work, and I hated it. I just hope Budweiser threw them some money, or a truck-ton of beer.

Hopefully someone from them or their agency can comment.

+++UPDATE #2+++

I reached out to ImprovEverywhere and Charlie Todd got back to me and said:

“Thanks for updating your post to reflect our original version of this idea in 2008.

To answer your question, no we were not paid by Bud.  They did not reach out to us at all.

Not the first time a brand has heavily borrowed one of our ideas.  It’s always irritating, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Here is the link to the video and all the awesomeness that went with it.

How about it Budweiser? Send those guys a case of beer or something? Would be a great gesture to wrap this story of awesome in a pretty bow.

  • I don’t drink Bud – but you are right. This commercial nails it.

  • Jboy

    Holy crap, I was in this commercial, didn’t think it was for the Super Bowl

  • Great, powerful, wonderful story… not sure what it has to do with beer (first guess- nothing), which brings me to my usual gripe about most advertising. Sorry to be a (whatever we’re calling social media  naysayers these days), but that’s pretty important to me when it comes to advertising.

  • There may not be any new ideas… but there are certainly good stories. Win. 

  • Josh

    Great entertainment, but doesn’t change my mind on the beer I prefer

  • My son played hockey and I fell in love with (most) of the culture. This is endearing and Bud did an amazing job! Good for them! Thanks for sharing! Makes those oh-dark-thirty ice times worth it. I don’t drink Bud, but I might try the Light Lime now!!!

  • They are totally ripping off the Improv Everywhere guys with their famous 2008 little league stunt.
    Check out  as it’s practically shot for shot.

  • I cried! I really did. That was so touching!
    Do you remember this Budweiser commercial after 9/11
    They are pretty good at making me cry…..

  •  Love this. I’m not a hockey “fan” (GASP!) and I don’t drink beer (double GASP!)…but this commercial made me all a good way.

  • Anonymous

    It gave me ungoosebumps!!

  • because beer makes you achieve great things!

  • Sikdave

    That’s how you do it. Warm the hearts, touch your audience and sell your beer. Everyone wins. Positivity sells.

    • Oops. Forgot to sell the beer. Might sign up for skating lessons though

  • Anonymous


  • Outstanding!  I loved it.  Got emotional, and even though I don’t drink Bud, I’m left with a feeling of appreciation and connection. 

  • Mathieu

    I’m sorry – this concept has been played out. It will take more than one sappy commercial from Budweiser to convince me they’re anything other than horses playing football and girls in bathing suits. 

  • the fans were really into it. I’m not sure what they fed them before but it was loud. I spoke to fans after the game and they loved it..said we looked like pros. We had to keep this a secret since Dec 21st. so happy to be able to talk about it now. 

  • Blake K

    Agreed, good idea and I don’t want to take anything away from the emotion those guys felt. But the idea stolen – almost shot for shot – from Improv Everywhere who did this almost 4 years ago at a Little League game (with NBC Sports and they brought the Goodyear blimp). It was also done about a year ago at a kids soccer/football game in Denmark.

    I predict a backlash from the internet, not winning it over. Companies with big budgets showing unoriginal commercials during the Super Bowl better be prepared for feedback.

    Improve Everywhere:

    Denmark Soccer/Football:

  • Great story line. Hockey Hall of Fame?

  • Kirsten Wright

    While inherently the commercial is clever, as a few others have mentioned, this is not unique. And I am actually
    kind of disappointed that they ripped off Improv Everywhere…

  • Brock

    The guy at the end may have had you in tears Scott, but this Bud classic brings me to tears of a different kind – The Budweiser Horse Fart

  • Pretty. Fucking. Awesome.

  • Hey, I bought my car from that guy! Awesome.

  • Brian

    Truly awesome! Put a smile on my face on a cold, dark Irish morning. This is what making a connection is all about….

  • You’re not kidding. I was getting teary-eyed watching this. Brilliant way to engage the “everyman”.

  • There is a story behind this peice and the soccer match as well  – and a memorable and probably universal story at that – how many people have played a rec league or other competitive sport that had less fans in the stands than there were people playing – more importantly the story is SHARABLE . . 

    Both stories also add the dimension of including the watcher as part of the experience.  Emotions are part of the hook.  People might remember a good story (read commercial) for a while, but they will remember an experience for much longer and these spots are experiences even if all you did was watch them.Budweiser is branding/attaching itself with all the rec league / we play for the love of the game people / the “every man’s” beer

    Now as an interesting twist compare this spot to the dos equis most interesting man in the world campaign and who can a beer drinker identify with more .. the guy sitting on the ice at the end of the game in the bud commercial or the most interesting man in the world who scares a puma out of his kitchen while he is cooking?   I agree … Game Over …

  • Now it’s at 400,000 views… soo……. ya.

  • Thanks for the heads-up, post has been updated re: Improv Everywhere

  • Thanks for the heads-up, post has been updated re: Improv Everywhere

  • Judy

    It is a fabulous commercial – and the look on the players faces was priceless. Loved it. 

  • Oakley0023

    Also done here August 2011 for Soccer kids in Toronto

  • The fact that this has been done before (Improv Everywhere) doesn’t taint my opinion of Budweiser at all.  Nice to have a great Canadian version for the boys at the rink!

  • I watched it after your tweet yesterday, and ended up in tears at my desk at work. I love it. Hopefully either this will show here in the US, or the US will have a similar commercial (although I doubt that). Thanks for sharing it. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting the Improv Everywhere link, Scott. The IE guys are fantastic, and considering how much Budweiser’s commercial is set up like their Best Game Ever prank I hope they showed IE some proper love and respect.

    Ideas seem easy only after a really creative person worked hard to come up with them.

  • Interesting comparison of the little league improv campaign. Yes a rip-off but are there any truly original ideas out there? 

  • Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, has tweeted that he and his group were not notified or compensated at all before Budweiser (and an American agency, Anamoly, I believe) took theire idea. See Charlie’s tweets at!/charlietodd. Sure, there may be no truly original ideas, but there are some shot-for-shot parts of the Bud campaign that are pretty much straight out of the IE video. Pretty weak.

    • Matt

      … I’ll add, for those who say “are there any new ideas out there” – YES.  For instance, how many times had this been done before Improv Everywhere did it?  We had 30, 40 years where it could have been done and it *was not*.  I don’t blame Budweiser, they probably had no idea their *agency* was ripping off someone else’s creative.  Happens ALL THE TIME.  But the question remains:  what are they going to do about it now?  And what is the industry going to do about agencies doing this?

      Creative directors sitting at their desks combing YouTube for good ideas is just fine, but recreating that concept with no real value added (other than production values), and no compensation or even acknowledgement of the originators, is shameful theft, given what Bud pays the agency for this.

      The other side of this issue is here — press about a ruling in the UK that an agency infringed copyright by doing something substantially similar, after failing to license the image for their campaign.

      There are certainly gray areas.

      Scott, maybe this is a subject to take up in the next book.

  • Mel Brown

    Ah, Charlie, no big deal. I’ll send ya a case of real beer! They fake that stuff too.

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  • Ace

    Bud are an evil corporation who rip off creative people everywhere. Don’t fall for their shit, they just want your money and they won’t be sharing it around.

  • If they truly did rip this idea off, why didn’t simply collaborate with them. We all know it’s hard to come up with something truly original, but these big brands have a chance to pay it back.

    It would have been totally awesome for them to have reached out, would probably have got them greater magnification on the campaign too.I hope ImprovEverywhere benefit in the long run from it being highlighted here.

  • What’s that you said about a big drink company showing up to an amateur hockey game to give them the ‘big show’ treatment?

    In all seriousness, the marketing & PR community is small and I just know that someone at Bud’s agency saw what Coke Zero did and got the idea from that.  

  • Maddy44857

    we all dreamed of being there….very classy Budweiser!

  • Kathylynngray

    Dreams can come true, if only for a moment !

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  • Mehhhh. The Budweiser Hockey one was better because you know they understand and appreciate it more.

  • Positive, refreshing, real and (almost) original. We need more ads like this! Only one thing disappointed me… lime beer Scott… CMON! I envisioned you as a Guinness or Harp kind of guy.

  • Darren

    So what if this concept has been used before. A great idea can only be used once?

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  • Jessica Zirbes

    Scott, enjoyed your post. Budweiser really impressed me with their Superbowl commercials this year. They touched the animal lover, party animal, sports fan, older folk and history buf! I don’t drink beer, but I appreciated their work. Well done.

  • Scott, enjoyed your post. Budweiser really impressed me with their Superbowl commercials this year. They touched the animal lover, party animal, sports fan, older folk and history buf! I don’t drink beer, but I appreciated their work. Well done.