Real Men of Genius
|Running time||60″ (US radio and UK TV)
30″ (US TV)
|Release date(s)||1998 (US radio)
2001 (UK TV)
2003 (US TV)
|Directed by||Tom Schiller, Tom Kuntz & Mike Maguire, Noam Murro, Greg Popp & John Immesoete|
|Music by||Sam Stryke & Sandy Torano, Scandal Music, Chicago|
|Coppos Films, Propaganda Films, Biscuit Filmworks, Partizan|
|Country|| United States
Real Men of Genius is a series of advertisements, primarily 60-second American radio spots, for Bud Light beer. The campaign was originally conceived by copywriter Bob Winter and art director Mark Gross—and co-created with copywriter Bill Cimino—at DDB Chicago.
The campaign began in 1998 under the title Real American Heroes with 12 radio spots. To date over 200 installments have been made. In 2001 the radio version was adapted for television in the UK, advertising Budweiser beer instead of Bud Light (Bud Light is not officially distributed in the UK). The six UK TV spots maintained the same one-minute format and ran for about 18 months. In fall 2003, thirty-second versions of three UK TV spots were edited and seven new ads were produced for US television.
The singing was done by Dave Bickler, the lead singer of the band Survivor, known for such songs as "Eye of the Tiger" from the 1980's. The hilarious, yet seriously spoken, commentary was done by voice actor Peter Stacker. Together, they made an appearance on the television show WGN Morning News and did a Real Men of Genius about the cameraman, which was a parody saying he falls asleep behind the video camera while recording the show. 
Each sixty-second ad gives mock glorification in the form of a tribute to men in overlooked professions or with humorous or eccentric traits or habits. The language is very observational in style, in part parodying Budweiser's earlier This Bud's for You campaign.
The advertisement is set to 1980s style anthemic music. The announcer (Pete Stacker) reads the mock tribute straight. Humour in part is derived from juxtaposing over-the-top vocals sung by Dave Bickler. Sometimes these vocals are augmented by a female gospel-style chorus.
2001/02 redaction and renaming
In mid-2001 Anheuser-Busch ordered another 17 Real American Hero ads be made. These ads were pulled from circulation after the 9/11 attacks as mocking American heroism then seemed questionable. The campaign relaunched in 2002 with the title and lyrics changed from Real American Heroes to Real Men of Genius.
Release and reception
The ads not only received tremendous consumer response, but also won more than 100 awards, including the prestigious Grand Prix for Radio (twice, in 2005 and 2006) as well as Gold and Bronze Lions at the Cannes International Advertising Festival and, in 2003, a Grand Clio, making it the most awarded campaign in history.
In 2003, Anheuser-Busch released a collection of 20 ads on CD, titled Bud Light Salutes Real Men of Genius, Vol 1, to be sold in the company's online store. Two additional volumes were released soon after. In 2005 a limited edition compilation combined all prior volumes into one release, Bud Light Salutes Real Men of Genius Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Each volume contained 20 spots and have since gone out of print.
In late 2006, Anheuser-Busch sponsored a comedy tour titled "Real Men of Comedy" starring John Heffron, Joe Rogan, and Charlie Murphy. This tour featured the announcer (Stacker) and singer (Bickler) performing several of their famous commercials live at the beginning of the show. Stacker and Bickler performed regional versions of the spots to support Budweiser's comedy tour at radio stations and concert-sponsored venues such as Lollapalooza.
While never officially canceled, funding for the ads was cut in June 2008. At the time, Anheuser-Busch denied the cost savings were part of a defense against hostile takeover from then competitor InBev. In July 2008 InBev successfully purchased Anheuser Busch.
- Schiller directed the 2001 TV spots "Mr. Horsedrawn Carriage Driver", "Mr. Nudist Colony Activities Coordinator", "Mr. Pro Wrestling Wardrobe Designer" and "Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer". Kuntz & Maguire co-directed "Mr. Foot-Long Hot Dog Inventor", also in 2001. In 2003 Murro helmed "Mr. Grocery Store Cart Wrangler ", "Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer" and "Mr. Wedding Band Guitar Player" while Popp & Immesoete co-directed "Mr. Male Football Cheerleader", "Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor", "Mr. Really, Really, Really Bad Dancer" and "Mr. Silent Killer Gas Passer". Title and director of the sixth UK TV commercial are not known.
- "2002 Television/Cinema Finalists" (PDF). London International Awards.
- "Pete Stacker's Comedy Demo". Pete Stacker.
- Mae Anderson (December 1, 2003). "'Genius' Gets Promotion". Adweek.
- "Real American Heroes/Real Men of Genius Campaign". Marketing Campaign Case Studies. February 23, 2008.
- Jeremy Mullman (June 30, 2008). "A-B Slashes Radio Spending". Advertising Age.
- "The WGN Morning News".
- "Radio - Category Winner: Bud Light". Advertising Age. May 28, 2001.
- Doug Zanger (September 12, 2007). "The Big 5 For Radio Success: Part 3 (Entertain 'em)". Advertising Age.
- William Hageman (November 16, 2003). "Here's to you, Mr. Funny Commercial Maker". Chicago Tribune.
- http://www.adweek.com/aw/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2002066[dead link]
- "Bud Light's 'Real Men Of Genius' Wins Grand Prix at Cannes Lion Ad Festival.". Anheuser-Busch / PR Newswire. June 27, 2005.
- "‘Real Men of Genius’ Radio Campaign Wins Grand Prix at Cannes Advertising Festival". Anheuser-Busch. June 21, 2006.
- "John Immesoete Biography". Filmmaster MEA Productions.
- "Volume 1 Tracklist". Last.fm.
- "Volume 2 Tracklist". Last.fm.
- Bud Light Real Men of Genius on WGN Morning News (video). WGN News/YouTube. November 6, 2007. Event occurs at 1:20–1:43.