Best of Decade Contender: Bud Light

To mark the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Marketing is looking to name the best Canadian advertising of the last 10 years. Up for the award are the Best of Show winners from the last 10 Marketing Awards shows. We’ve been profiling the nominees in Marketing Daily, and the winner will […]

To mark the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Marketing is looking to name the best Canadian advertising of the last 10 years. Up for the award are the Best of Show winners from the last 10 Marketing Awards shows. We’ve been profiling the nominees in Marketing Daily, and the winner will be announced at the 2010 Marketing Awards, tomorrow. Voting wraps up 10 a.m. Wednesday morning so be sure to cast your vote by visiting CampaignOfTheDecade.ca.

Television ads are often accused of being little more than 30 seconds of unbranded, irrelevant entertainment with a logo slapped on the end. Bud Light‘s “History” spot–part of its “Bud Light Institute” campaign and the Best of Show winner at the 2004 Marketing Award–bucked that trend.

Soap operas? Bachelorette parties? Shoe sales? Feminism? All products of the oft-mentioned Institute that provided distractions for women while their husbands and boyfriends got together for beer.

“There’s such a tendency to hide the brands, to put the logo at the very end,” said Dan Pawych, who served as creative director for the campaign at the now-defunct Downtown Partners.

“Typically product shots were at the end because you didn’t want them ruining the ads. [‘History’] really showed that you can have the brand [throughout] and do something that’s great without sacrificing creativity.”

In Canada, Bud Light is managed by Labatt. David Kincaid was the director of marketing who signed off on each “Institute” spot, after thorough audience testing of course.

“It tested through the roof on branding, and after that, you can kind of do whatever you want,” said Pawych, now executive creative director at Allard Johnson. “What made it for us is that a lot of women loved it because it was so absurd.”

The ad and its campaign dominated the 2004 Marketing Awards, winning six Golds and two Silvers. Downtown won four more trophies for Bud Light work outside the “Institute” campaign as well, so Pawych made several trips to the stage throughout the night.

“It was unbelievable, like a tidal wave. It’s one thing to win a Gold, but it’s another to win Best of Show,” said Pawych, adding it boosted everyone’s reputation, including the creative team of Carlos Moreno and Peter Ignazi, now executive creative directors of BBDO Canada.

It also earned the agency more credibility with the brand’s U.S. parent Anheuser-Busch and a Super Bowl commercial the following year.

“It was a huge door opener for us.”

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