Throwback Thursday: Bud Light’s Real Men of Genius Campaign


Ryan here, SRH copywriter and your ad history tour guide for the day.

As you probably remember, “Real Men of Genius” was a series of over 200 (200!) radio and TV spots for Bud Light that ran from 1998 to 2008. It began as “Real American Heroes”, but they changed the name after 9/11.

Each spot began with a sweet hook and the line, “Bud Light presents … Real Men of Genius.” Over the course of a minute, the ads would salute dudes with odd jobs like the guy who hands out bowling shoes or the guy who writes fortune cookies or the guy who hands out free samples at the supermarket.

People loved these spots. Loved them. People turned the radio up when they came on. People got pumped when a new spot dropped. Voice actor Pete Stacker and singer Dave Bickler toured the country performing the ads live at baseball games and concerts.

Aimed squarely at Bud Light’s core audience — dudes and the people who love them — the campaign sold tons of beer and racked up more than 100 awards.

We talk about being disruptive — at SRH and throughout our industry. Roughly two-thirds of our job is to get people to stop scrolling, to put down the remote, to not switch to a different station, to not click “skip ad”. One way to do that is to be wildly entertaining.

Not every brand can be as wildly entertaining as Bud Light, so what do we learn from this? There are three takeaways that apply no matter who you are … 

  1. Be relentlessly you. “Real Men of Genius” was so ridiculously on-brand Bud Light barely needed to be mentioned. If you need help being relentlessly you, drop SRH a note. We’d love to chat.

  2. It is entirely possible to create ads that people love. Not just enjoy. Not just talk about after the Super Bowl. Love. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

  3. Advertising can be anything, including a minute-long comedy skit that has nothing to do with the product it's selling … as long as the message is relevant, personal, anticipated, for your audience and about your audience.

There’s only one rule: Don’t be boring.