Monday, October 12, 2009

Real Men of Genius: the most award-winning radio ad campaign in history

Today, we salute you, Mr. Great Copywriter.

My ad class took their first shot at writing radio ads last week, and they discovered what many a copywriter has discovered before them: writing good advertising is hard.

Writing great original advertising and selling it to a client? Next to impossible.

So, here's the exception to the rule: the great Real Men of Genius campaign for Bud Light - the most award-winning radio ad campaign in history.

Written by Bob Winter at DDB Chicago, and featuring announcer Pete Stacker, Survivor's Dave "Eye of the Tiger" Bickler, and a gospel choir, the radio campaign led to an equally successful TV campaign.

At over 100 installments and counting, it proves David Ogilvy's belief that it's so rare to come up with a great ad campaign that when you actually do, you should keep using it over and over and over until it stops working.

The Real Men of Genius campaign started in 1999 as "Real American Heroes." Can you guess which event of Sept. 11, 2001 changed the themeline?

Here's the very first TV treatment:

My personal favorite:

And here's how to do it in 30 seconds:



  1. I agree that the taco salad one is probably the best of the bunch. Too bad it's a beer commercial and therefore utterly forgettable. Beer commercials are usually pretty funny but most jokes have nothing to do with the beer itself. The jokes they use are so similar that it's hard to distinguish between the brands (which already have almost zero point of difference to begin with).

  2. One more thought on beer advertising. When you consider the sheer volume of advertising that Budweiser does across all mediums, can you truly measure the effectiveness of their spots?

  3. This one works for me: it's the guy from Survivor who really brings it home...

    Can you measure the effectiveness? Depends what you're measuring: sales, awareness, etc...

  4. I don't think Budweiser has any awareness issues. You'd be hard pressed to find someone not familiar with the brand. Although, with all the brand extensions that Budweiser has, the waters are a little murky when it comes to which brand was being advertised in which spot.

    I'm referring more to sales. Those spots don't really do anything to make you want to run out and buy a case of Bud. Most other spots don't really do that either. The best example I can think of for actually selling a point of difference are Bud Light's "the difference is drinkability" spots, but even that isn't that convincing. Do any of these spots actually drive people to buy Bud or do they just continually build the brand awareness so when Joe Beer Drinker is at the store he says "Why not Bud?"

  5. The bud ads are genius! I laugh ever time I hear them! But, I didn't know you could still hear them on Canadian radio stations, I used to listen to American stations just to hear them a few years ago. "(jingle)We salute you, Male Football Cheer Leader"!


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