One of the most hilarious and effective advertising campaigns of the early 21st century was the Real Men of Genius line of radio and television spots, advertising Bud Lite beer for the Anheuser-Busch Corporation, an international brewer headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Originally titled "Real American Heroes," these spots debuted in 2001 and instantly became a hit. (The name change came after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I suppose they didn't want to equate their salutees with the firefighters and police officers who lost their lives trying to save people trapped in the World Trade Center and Pentagon.) These ads even received the world’s most prestigious advertising award in June, 2005: the Grand Prix for Radio, at the 52nd Annual International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France.

What makes the spot so infectious and damned funny is the deadpan, deep-voiced delivery of the main voice over - done by Pete Stacker (thanks rootbeer277!), coupled with the 1980's rock ballad stylings of David Bickler, the former lead singer of Survivor. Bickler's performance in the commercials reminds us of his "Eye of the Tiger" theme song to "Rocky III." The ad agency responsible for this clever marketing campaign was DDB Worldwide Chicago. It was musician and producer Sandy Torano who DDB approached to write a "cheesy 80's song" for the commercials. She immediately thought of Bickler as the perfect candidate to sing them.

The Concept: "Real Men of Genius" salutes... well, the "real" men of genius, not composers or inventors of light bulbs; rather, the ads praise men of more common and practical achievements (i.e. beer drinkers).

"The spots spoof old-fashioned beer commercials that saluted the hard-working little guy," said John Immesoete, group creative director of DDB. He also said it singles out "people who make our lives better."

For example, sometimes the spots salute inventors of things of which we don't normally think about who invented them: "Mr. Push Up Bra Inventor," "Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor," "Mr. Cargo Pants Designer," "Mr. Bumper Sticker Writer," "Mr. Footlong Hot Dog Inventor," "Mr. Furniture Assembly Manual Writer," and "Mr. Jean Shorts Inventor (Jorts)." Then they salute men who do things that are appreciated, or things that people usually do not appreciate but they're saluted anyway because they had the balls to do it: "Mr. Fancy Coffee Shop Pourer," "Mr. Chinese Food Delivery Guy," "Mr. Over The Top Carb Counter," "Mr. In the Car Nose Picker," "Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer," "Mr. Next Day Carpet Installer," and "Mr. Gasoline BBQ Starter." And then some of the spots venture into the truly bizarre, stretching this concept (and grammar) about as far as they can: "Mr. Movie Theater Ticket Ripper Upper," "Mr. Department Store Mannequin Dresser Upper," "Mr. Paranoid of the Ocean Guy," "Mr. Ceremonial First Pitch Thrower Outer," "Mr. Really, Really, Really Bad Dancer," and (my personal favorite as far as the title is concerned) "Mr. Really Stinky Breath Breather Outer."

These are but a few examples of the spots, which I think may number into the 80's now. There are commonalities between all of them, though, some of them you might have noticed. First of all, all the spots begin with the gruff voice over (Stacker) saying: "Bud Light Presents Real Men of Genius" and then Bickler gently sings in the background Real Men of Genius. Then, the announcer says "Today we salute you, Mr. ---" at which point the specific occupation or accomplishment (or lack thereof) of that ad's salutee is identified. And all of them start with "Mr." and end in "-er." Most of them are radio ads - most often played while listening to broadcasts of sporting events - but some have been translated into TV commercials. I like the radio ads better because it leaves more to the imagination.

To truly get how funny these are if you haven't heard them, you have to read a complete example of one of them. Actually it's best to hear them, but that's not possible here. Below is one of my favorites, altered slightly so I'm not technically violating copyright. What Pete Stacker says is in bold, and what Bickler is singing is in italics.

MR. 80 SPF SUNBLOCKER WEARER

Bud Lite Presents Real Men of Genius
Real Men of Genius

Tonight we salute you Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer
Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer...

There are 24 hours in a day, you're wearing 80 hour protection. If the Sun fails to set, you'll be ready.
Don't forget the moonlight!
Your coconut-scented force field blocks out all the suns rays, and any stray rays from another sun, in another galaxy.
You're a STAR!!
30 SPF? Please.. You might as well be wearing cooking oil.
Something smells delicious!

So crack open an ice cold Bud Light Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer
In fact, feel free to crack one open at high noon, in the middle of the Sahara desert.

Mr. 80 SPF Sunblock Wearer...

Anheuser-Busch -- St. Louis, Missouri

Sources:
http://budlight.whipnet.com/
http://www.newmoanyeah.com/2004-reviews/022304_budweiser_real_men_of_genius_commercials.php
http://www.offthekuff.com/mt/archives/002920.html
http://www.anheuser-busch.com/news/BLCannesAward062705.htm
http://thefuntimesguide.com/movabletype/archives/2004/10/bud_light_real.html

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