How to advertise bad beer

Comedian Will Ferrell may have hit on the biggest publicity stunt in the history of publicity.

Ferrell is traveling around the Midwest, making commercials for a beer nobody likes. He wasn’t hired by the company. He’s making them for free and posting them on YouTube. It’s the best advertising Old Milwaukee, made by Pabst, could have imagined.

Yesterday, it appeared limited to Davenport, Iowa, where he filmed several commercials:

Then overnight, commercials popped up from Terre Haute…

It’s impossible to figure out — yet — who the joke’s on?

“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,” Crowley said in a statement provided to the Indianapolis Tribune-Star.

That’s a good one.

AdWeek thinks it might smell the plot…


First, an MSNBC report from 2010 indicated that Ferrell’s Funny or Die site was planning to produce sketches incorporating Pabst products–as part of an effort by the brewer’s new owners, the Metropoulos brothers, to revitalize a host of neglected labels. Nothing has yet appeared on Funny or Die, but these three spots could easily be seen as branded entertainment. Also curious is Old Milwaukee’s recent refresh of its website and Facebook presence, which puts other grainy Old Milwaukee beer ads front and center–classic spots from the brand’s history, including the Swedish Bikini Team (hailed on the Facebook page as “The Best Beer Commercial Ever”). Are the Ferrell spots supposed to hark back ironically to the brand’s commercial heyday?

When it comes to marketing genius, it doesn’t get any better than this.

  • fasolamatt

    “bad beer” is a mite pejorative… Old Milwaukee has it’s place, if you’re just barely 21 years old, clueless, broke, and just mowed the lawn. It’s OK beer then…

  • andy

    Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like an ice cold swill beer. I grew up taking hits off of my dad’s cans of Old Milwaukee (the old pull-tab cans no less).

    I also like a PBR tall boy now and again.

    Ok, is it beer-thirty yet…… ah, sometimes my Wisconsin roots really show…..

  • Jim Shapiro

    I thought you had to use big horses to advertise bad beer.

  • http://samh.net samh

    I’ve been drinking Old Mil since before I was even legal. Good on Ferrell for these funny spots.

  • andy

    @Jim,

    No sir, you need silver bullet trains to sell bad beer….

    or large horses I suppose.

  • The Big Dog

    I will always remember my first summer after turning 21, going golfing with my Dad, and drinking “Old Man” beer. Good Times.

  • http://www.beerclubguide.com beer clubs of the month toronto

    Will Ferrell is a riot! I’d buy beer from him, even if it wasn’t the best brand. Shows he has a sense of humor.