Will Ferrell has been making low-budget TV ads for Midwestern swill producer Old Milwaukee over the past few months, and until recently the ads have flown under the radar of the national media. This is due in large part to the under the radar target markets for the ads, which includes Davenport, Iowa, and other illustrious members of the Quad Cities. (According to Wikipedia, the Quad Cities comprise Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois. I will take it on faith that this is true, despite the fact that I count five, not four, cities on that list.)
The ads have a low-budget charm, and it looks like they cost about $100 to produce — think Will Ferrell and a friend using a decent cell phone camera. Here’s a good example, with Ferrell “hand fishing” for treasure in the Mississippi:
More recently, the deeper commercial logic of the lo-fi ad campaign has become a little bit clearer. For the Super Bowl, Ferrell created another ad in the Old Milwaukee series. It ran on one station, KNOP in North Platte, Nebraska, the second smallest TV market in the US. Thirty seconds of ad time on KNOP costs about $1,500. Compare that to the cost of an ad during the Big Game: $3.5 million. Though few people saw the ad when it ran, it quickly shot around the web and social networks, and has generated a fair amount of “buzz” — the ultimate dream of every ad man. Here it is:
So it seems that Will Ferrell triumphs one again. By simply goofing around in the Midwest with a few cans of beer and a cheap camera, he has created an immensely valuable promotional vehicle. An impressive feat. Too bad the beer is so very bad.