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Anheuser-Busch may have ended its exclusive advertising sponsorship with the NFL — resulting in more beer ads than ever in Super Bowl LVII — but that doesn’t mean the brewing company bowed out altogether.

For its Busch Light brand, the company brought back the Busch Guy spokesperson, said Jerry Hoak, executive creative director and managing partner at The Martin Agency, which worked on the Super Bowl spot.

Hoak, a 2005 graduate of the VCU Brandcenter, was one of 18 alumni who worked on ads featured in last night’s game.

“Our entire campaign is about surviving the great outdoors,” he said. “In our spot, Busch Guy describes the three things you need to survive in the wilderness. Food (obviously), drink (Busch, of course) and shelter (an unassuming tent).

“But for the Super Bowl, we needed some surprising star power. [So] inside the ‘shelter’ was confused animal shelter icon Sarah McLachlan. After she makes her impassioned plea to America, she’s kindly informed by the Busch Guy that she’s in the wrong commercial.”

The Martin Agency team members knew they had to create an ad that could handle the heavy lifting of making an impression amid the onslaught of beer and seltzer commercials this year.

Andrew Allen thinks they nailed it.

“I think the best Super Bowl commercials break through the noise and make the audience do a sort of double take, all without creating something that lives outside of the typical world of the brand,” said Allen, a 2019 Brandcenter alum who worked as a strategist for the ad. “I may be biased, but I think we achieve that with this spot.”

“Treat every ad like it might end up being on the Super Bowl. Because it might.”
-Jerry Hoak, 2005 graduate of the VCU Brandcenter.

Orchard NYC had a similar challenge in making its client, Oikos Yogurt, stand out in the field of Greek yogurts, said Sarah Garman, a 2013 creative brand management graduate. A hallmark of Oikos is its high protein content ? but that’s true of all Greek yogurt.

“We needed to give Oikos an ownable point of view. And the way we did that was we thought about the emotional benefit to protein, which very simply is strength,” she said. “That is a universal benefit of more protein. A very simple one. … In doing so, we became the first and the only yogurt to own strength.”

This was Garman and Allen’s first year with a Super Bowl ad (although Garman has had a hand in other Super Bowl ads in the past, this was the first that she worked on from conception to completion). For Hoak, it was both his second and third Super Bowl spot.

“I had the rare privilege of working on two spots [this year]. But it took more than 15 years to get my first one,” he said. “There is no bigger high than finding out your spot is going to be in the Super Bowl. Having two this year feels surreal.” His second spot last night touted DoorDash’s relatively new grocery delivery service. “We leaned into their restaurant expertise by drawing a simple conclusion: Since DoorDash knows restaurants so well, they also know chefs pretty well too. And no one knows how to choose groceries like some of pop culture’s most iconic chefs.”

Danielle Delph and Allison Apperson, who graduated from the Brandcenter with a concentration in art direction in 2013 and 2016 respectively, also worked on the DoorDash ad.

Hoak has some advice for his fellow Brandcenter alumni: “Treat every ad like it might end up being on the Super Bowl. Because it might.”

View all the Super Bowl LXII ads featuring work by VCU Brandcenter alumni on VCUNews

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