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Subversion + The Super Bowl: How St. Archer Successfully Under Rolled the Radar

You won’t find my favorite Super Bowl commercial anywhere on USA Today’s annual Ad Meter. But millions saw it nationwide.

Anheuser-Busch negotiates a buyout of national ad time for the big game. Commercials for their brands are the only ones you’ll see. But there’s one caveat: if a competing brand chooses to buy up local airtime, they can get around the A-B monopoly.

Molson Coors decided their St. Archer Gold brand was worth the extra work by their media-buying agency.

It’s probably better they took this route. Their commercial – featuring no funny animals, cute kids or expensive special effects – wouldn’t have performed well in the Ad Meter format.

The 60-second spot features pro skateboarder Paul Rodriguez (yeah, I had to look him up, too) as he takes a leisurely roll through the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego at dusk in search of St. Archer Gold. As store after store is sold out, night falls and Rodriguez continues his laid-back pursuit, even crossing a footbridge over Interstate 5, before finally finding a 12-pack and rolling off into the darkness.

As a simple story, it works to build awareness of a little-known brand while subtly suggesting it’s in high demand among its target demographic.

But music choice really sets the spot apart. As the commercial begins, we hear Rodriguez whistling. Sounds familiar, I thought, but couldn’t immediately place it. Rodriguez passes a street musician, who joins in on guitar and I finally recognized it as “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses. The song and Rodriguez’s refusal to settle are paid off with end frame type stating “Introducing a light beer worth holding out for.”

Playing against type is a bold but risky strategy in the Super Bowl. A subdued spot can stand out amid the surrounding din, but too often advertisers go for overly serious voiceover or some bogus connection to social justice in an attempt to stand out.

St. Archer, shrewd in both their media strategy and creative, was content to simply and quietly show and not tell.

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