Anheuser-Busch Reimagines ‘Real Men of Genius’ Radio Ads For the Digital Age

Anheuser-Busch is reaching back into the archives for its latest Bud Light ad campaign.

The world’s largest beer company yesterday unveiled updated versions of the iconic “Real Men of Genius” radio ads that debuted in 1998 and ran through the mid-2000s.

The original campaign, which celebrated unsung heroes such as “ Mr. Pro Wrestling Wardrobe Designer,” or “Mr. T-shirt Launcher Inventor,” has officially been modernized for the digital age.

Now called “Internet Heroes of Genius,” the campaign pays tribute to those sometimes-overlooked individuals who have mastered the World Wide Web, such as the “Video Streaming Login Sharer,” or the “Corporate Social Media Manager.”

“At its best, the campaign was about pointing out all of those people in society that you might not think about, shining a light on them and celebrating them in a fun way,” Conor Mason, Bud Light digital director, told Brewbound.

Created in partnership with California creative agency Red, a division of Endeavor, the first ads debuted yesterday on YouTube and Twitter.

To jumpstart the campaign, A-B set up a “war room” in New York City, and recorded customized video messages for select Twitter users who engaged with the brand online.

In doing so, A-B also targeted some prominent celebrities and Internet personalities, including the hosts of popular Barstool Sports podcast “Pardon My Take,” and rapper Post Malone. Both have existing partnerships with the Bud Light brand.

“We wanted to reach out to some specific people, especially people that do awesome stuff on the Internet,” Mason told Brewbound.

A-B also created personalized messages for brands such as Wendy’s, DiGiorno Pizza, Steak-umm, and Corn Nuts, as well as reporters Darren Rovell and Trey Wingo.

According to Mason, the ads will air on digital radio platforms, streaming services like Hulu, and social media platforms like Snapchat.

To measure the success of the campaign, A-B will monitor engagement by tallying likes, shares, retweets, and mentions, Mason said.

“We want people to engage with the ads, and that, for me, is going to be the primary metric,” he said.

Mason declined to share how much the company spent on the campaign but said it was not intended to replace A-B’s ongoing medieval world or ingredient transparency messaging.

“We view this execution as part of what Bud Light always tries to do, which is finding ways to be fun and relevant,” he said. “It won’t be the primary effort.”

Mason, who was born in the 1990s, said longtime A-B executive Andy Goeler was instrumental in helping to guide the company’s reboot of the now two-decades-old radio ads.

“He used to work on Bud Light radio specifically, so it was awesome to have him there to share where ‘Real Men of Genius’ came from, and what the core of that idea was,” Mason said.

The element of nostalgia no doubt plays a key role in the modern take on one of the company’s most memorable campaigns. Many of the brand’s core 25- to 34-year-old drinkers weren’t of legal drinking age when they heard the ads on the radio in the early 2000s. Mason said the focus on digital placements helps to ensure these new spots reach 21-plus listeners.

“Social media has changed the way that we consume content,” he said. “People used to wait for brands to give them content, and that is how some of our iconic TV and radio commercials became a part of mainstream culture. There is so much content out there today, and we really need to create stuff that breaks through.”

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