My favorite part of the World Series was definitely not watching the Cubs win the World Series. As a Cardinals fan, I was actually hoping to see the “best streak in baseball” continue for another year. However, my favorite part was how Anheuser-Busch honored the legendary sportscaster, who died in 1998 without seeing his beloved Cubbies make it to the World Series, with a video that has him calling the end of Game 7, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in an extra-inning nail-biter. The brewer also resuscitated 1984 Budweiser ad in which the Bud pitch man, and Bud lover, caught a cold one launched into the Wrigley Field bleachers using a net.
The company, working with marketers from ad agency VaynerMedia, moved quickly to create the video that would capitalize on one of the greatest feel-good sports moments in more than a century. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.
The ad shows the statue of Caray outside Wrigley Field and tense fans in bars, his deep voice intoning, “Boy, if you have a weak heart, turn the set off. The rest of you, stay with us!” Then it cuts to fans celebrating, and Carey saying “Holy Cow! You talk about a mass of happy humanity. How about those Cubbies? Now our lives are complete!”
During the 16 years that Caray called games at Wrigley Field, the Cubs made it to the postseason twice, never making it to the World Series. He died several months before the start of the 1998 season, when the Cubs advanced to the National League Division Series, only to be swept by the Atlanta Braves.
The Anheuser-Busch video with Caray calling the final out of this year’s World Series, was conceived in a span of 10 days leading up to Game 7 and spliced together with audio from Caray’s days as a Cubs broadcaster. Gary Vaynerchuk and his team from VaynerMedia in New York culled through archives of yesteryear’s games between the Cubs and the Indians, and also games with big finishes, to set up the illusion. Rather than using stock footage, they wanted something that looked very real. A separate crew worked throughout the night after the Cubs victory to capture video of fans in and around Wrigley Field as game seven unfolded. The final two-minute video was approved at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday morning after the game and went online around 7 a.m.
The campaign is a smart way to bring in the history, brand equity and nostalgia together and be relevant in the moment. However, the commercial was a still major gamble, and rested on the Cubs winning the World Series.
Anheuser-Busch has been the official beer sponsor of Major League Baseball for more than 30 years and the brewery’s ties to Caray stretch back to the 1980s, when he pitched the brew as a “Cubs Fan, Bud Man.” Caray is still revered in Chicago, where a statue of the broadcaster is adorned in a Cubs jersey outside of Wrigley Field and features an outstretched hand which, coincidentally, holds a can of Budweiser quite snugly.
According to AdAge, Budweiser became the first brand to simultaneously have the most engaging brand posts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, raising the bar for emotional storytelling in real-time.
VaynerMedia wasn’t the only agency to honor the Cubs’ win. Wieden + Kennedy (Nike, ESPN) and The Martin Agency (Benjamin Moore) released their own takes on the historic victory.