Budweiser Storytelling Genius Used for Good

I just watched the new Budweiser commercial for July 4 this year and I think it is genius.  They used story to do good as well as make money. Lately I’ve been disturbed by mechanistic applications of story, but this? This is big picture, risky, embedded with big T Truth and I hope it does what it seems to have been designed to do.

Budweiser invites liberals and conservatives to remember who they are and why they are here, and to have a damn beer fer crissakes. The common good intentions of left and right are symbolized by the conservative cues framing the family of the veteran and his daughter as obviously conservative they add an even heavier handed cues about liberal Hollywood to characterize Adam Driver.  Then they dissolve their different POVs with the shared tragedy of both men being wounded before deployment and dealing with pain and survivors guilt.

I try to imagine… what was the dialogue in the conference room when they made the decision

“Should we do it?”

“It’s risky.”

“You are f—ing idealists.”

“It tested well.”

“Screw it, we’re going to do it.”

Of course they tested this ad. I admit preliminary the comments I’ve read are accusatorial jabs from die hard haters from both sides. But I hope that over time, the idea of just sitting down and having a beer comparing what we care about most…will bring some sanity to the current political arena.

If not, I’ll just drink a Bud and try not to worry about it.


3 thoughts on “Budweiser Storytelling Genius Used for Good”

  1. I agree Annette. Brilliant.
    What’s to hate?
    I think Budweiser tapped a fairly universal value. Furthermore,
    their whole position is “Americana” (even though it’s owned by a Brazilian company) Can’t believe anyone at corporate saw too much risk beforehand.

    That said, the skeptic in me wants to know more about this program that Budweiser is sponsoring. Is this just a one-off for promotion sake? Commercial says, “one of the many scholarships we’ve given away this summer.” How many is “many?” How much is each worth? Did Bud pay Adam Driver or did he volunteer?.
    Sorry. Occupational Hazard.

    1. One of the dilemmas in storytelling is that most stories require a receptivity and suspension of disbelief to wander around inside a story to compare the intended meaning with our own derived meaning. IMHO we have to choose either clarity of intent or technical clarity. Not a policy statement, I simply see this as unavoidable. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. In real life you and I and Budweiser are deeply flawed. (I guess I should speak for myself, huh?) But this imperfection and ambiguity is the stuff of real life…the perceptions of our sensory experiences. I now see stories as sensory/emotional patterns that preserve the ambiguiuity of reality (i.e. it depends) in favor of providing touchstone experiences/stories on how to survive as a collective species. I’m only just beginning to use this framework – but I do think that clarity of intent once translated into “proof” or metrics is deadened…is no longer a story but a rule. We need rules. We need way better rules for high tech for instance. But I wonder if cynicism is so high right now that we’ve lost the wisdom of the patterns of seeing positive intent, letting it make us feel good so we go and do good. Story abusers, fake news, controlled narratives are undermining vital social fabric of trust and positive intentions. I’m befuddled about how we can bring story back as a sign of trustworthiness once it’s been mined dry.

  2. Wow. I can’t stand the taste of Bud, but that video did bring tears to my eyes.

    Interestingly, as a Brit, the political framing completely passed me by. As I’m from another culture, I didn’t see the conservative cues, and also didn’t associate Adam Driver with liberal Hollywood. Some aspects of stories are universal, and some culture-specific.

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