Why is Will Ferrel shilling Old Milwaukee, randomly? Because he is paid to do so.
Is it a prank? Is it "murketing", that is paid marketing pretending it is not? Or is it honestly what Will tells the writer named Sam Adams (how apt!) in AVClub: "I just love Old Milwaukee. That’s my official answer."
Even Fox News have wondered why Will Farrel is, seemingly randomly, shilling Old Milwaukee Beer in very local media buys. Why Nebraska? wondered Slate. Businessweek says that the superbowl ad managed to outscoop many others generating twitter buzz for only the cost of placement in North Platte, Nebraska.
And here you'll find that the ads, which you'll find "filmed off TV" all over youtube, but not posted on an official webpage for Old Milwaukee are indeed murketing. Paid ads pretending to not be, thus generating free hype because people will believe the spin that Will does this out of the love for cheap beer. You know, takes a day off, shoots an ad with a handheld video-camera, books the local media buy, pays out of pocket to air his own ad in Nebraska once or twice. For the hell of it.
In 2010, the Metropoulos family signed a deal with Will Ferrell’s company Funny or Die to create a series of sketches incorporating Pabst products. Martin Lesak, an agent with Creative Artists Agency, brokered the deal. Ferrell has since appeared in a number of low-budget Old Milwaukee ads that have appeared only in small, local TV markets, including spots that selectively aired in Davenport, Iowa, and Terre Haute, Ind.
In subsequent interviews, Pabst employees have spun Ferrell’s involvement in the local Old Milwaukee ads as a labor of love for which he receives no compensation. “Will approached Old Milwaukee because he’s a big fan of the beer and thought it would be fun to make the commercials, and we couldn’t be more excited that he did,” Bryan Crowley, Pabst Brewing’s chief marketing officer, told the Quad-City Times back in November.
“The Old Milwaukee campaign featuring Will Ferrell, as a whole, is about paying homage to great Old Milwaukee towns,” Daren and Evan Metropoulos said in a prepared media statement today. “North Platte, Neb., is just another one of those towns and what goes better with football than Old Milwaukee beer? The ads with Will Ferrell are extremely popular, which just shows you don’t need to spend millions of dollars to make a big impression.”
So yes, it's "murketing" if you want to call it that. Or "stealth marketing". Or "How to have both a celeb and a super bowl ad and keep your street cred intact". The fact one can not get the ads other than in the "filmed off TV" version adds to the myth of fandom advert, where people in small local towns apparently always have the video camera ready in case Will Ferrel shows up on TV.
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