Call it a noble, but failed attempt at respectability
I’m not talking about the Carolina Panthers’ utter futility during Super Bowl 50. I’m talking about Dame Helen Mirren’s Budweiser commercial, which doubled as a tongue-in-cheek Public Service Announcement.
You know the one I’m talking about. Dame Mirren, in her polite tone, insults those who choose to drink and drive, calling them “shortsighted, utterly useless, oxygen-wasting human form of pollution.”
For the record, we agree. Ms. Mirren is talking serious business. It is, of course, utterly stupid, dangerous and reckless to put other drivers at risk because of poor decision-making. That’s why the Bud commercial felt so out of place. You won’t find me knocking anything that advocates for safe driving very often. Still, this commercial had a few things that smelled more like clever advertising than public service.
My thinking has less to do with the actual messaging than how the message was delivered. At issue here is whether Budweiser’s ostensible PSA was, in fact, an unmitigated form of guidance as opposed to a crafty couture of subliminal messaging. This is after all a commercial that frames Helen Mirren (an Academy Award-winning actress) as a sophisticated drinker; she can have a Bud and criticize those who aren’t as sophisticated enough to know the difference. And she can do it while holding a beer in her hand.
In other words, Bud is a beer that doesn’t inspire hasty decision-making. Therefore, it’s the King of Beers and the one you should purchase the next time you’re at a bar. Leave it to a courtly British personality to drive the point home. If Bud wants to hand down life lessons to millions of people, it may be worth doing things a little differently next time, a PSA in which:
Beer is off the table
There she is. Sitting there. Alone. Scolding. With a beer in full view. Contradictory, wouldn’t it seem? Maybe the next PSA about responsible drinking shouldn’t include careful product placement at all. That goes for all beer companies.
Comedy is not King
Sure, it’s a serious subject. Then maybe it shouldn’t feel like a joke. A commercial that starts off relatively strong turns into a tongue-in-cheek number with little poignancy. In fact, I would argue that all it’s doing is prodding you to grab another beer. If you happened to be driving on Super Bowl Sunday, the message was less than super.
Bud bolds the fine print
You’ll notice that at the end of the commercial Budweiser says it will spend $1 on safe ride programs every time someone uses the hashtag #GiveADamn (it took a second viewing on my laptop to find it). Needless to say, the text was also less than super, though it’s worth noting that the effort is a noble one.