The Very Genius Of It All

Tucked into this Wall Street Journal article (paid sub. req.) on staving off ad fatigue, is a nugget about the popularity of Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius” radio campaign.

The ads combine a bombastic announcer, sappy 1980s rock music and outlandish tributes to trivial achievements, such as the invention of the foot-long hot dog. They leave male audiences giggling. And they have been a staple of sports-radio broadcasts since 1999.
Bob Lachky, an Anheuser-Busch executive vice president, says he knew the ad format could stretch a ways. But he didn’t expect it to generate more than 100 sequels, saluting everyone from “Mr. Toupee Wearer” to “Mr. Fantasy Football Manager Guy.”
“Part of my job is to keep new brand managers from killing it,” says Mr. Lachky. “We want to own the idea of having fun, and this helps us do it.”
Bud Light rotates the ads so no one spot plays incessantly. But Mr. Lachky says he doesn’t mind if ardent baseball fans hear some of the Bud Light ads more often than researchers say is effective. “Consultants make big money by telling people stuff that has no application to real life,” he quips.
For Bud Light devotees who can’t get enough of these ads, Anheuser-Busch is marketing three music CDs filled with 20 commercials apiece. The company says it has sold 200,000 of those discs.

That last bit is what really caught my eye. These ads are so beloved that people seek them out and BUY them.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I love those ads. I just wish they would write one for something trivial that genius women do, like housewiving.

  2. anonymous says:

    bob “too many awards” winter is the former DDB writer who came up with that idea. a real man of genius, if i may.

  3. IMO, the original ones from Bob Winter were better because they were more ‘celebratory’ while still being funny (ie; Mr. Footlong Hotdog Inventor).
    The later ones were celebratory only in a more sarcastic and insulting way (ie; Mr. Toupee Wearer).
    It’s a slight, yet distinct difference in tone and meaning that’s clear to me, but seems to escape most award show judges.

  4. Good point, Tas. It might interest you to know (or you may even remember) that the campaign was originally called “Real American Heroes” but they changed it’s name after 9/11 for fear of offending anyone. Ironically, this might have led to the more sarcastic tone you noticed. This was also right about the time the campaign was really taking off, and you know what happens then: the heavy lifting over, everyone who smells award show gold comes out of the woodwork and writes a spot. Thus, with the original creator edged out and everyone jumping on the bandwagon to get some award show hardware the easy way, the original tone couldn’t help but morph a bit.

  5. Tas, you are brilliant. Brilliant. Your unmatched ability to detect subtle nuances in radio advertising should be envied by one and all.

  6. I was under the impression they changed it to “Men of Genius” because it got used overseas as well.
    But the 9/11 reason for change isn’t surprising.

  7. VoxUnpopuli says:

    They’re SELLING the ads? 200,000 of them?
    Meanwhile cutwater’s “successful Raybans viral” that only had 2MM views is on the cover of adweek, and this is found in the bowels of a blog.
    No offense.