My favourite audio: ‘Real Men of Genius’ and ‘Hello David’

Do you remember the Bud Light 'real men of genius' campaign?

We are in a golden age of audio. Ever increasing consumer demand for streaming audio networks means it's never been easier for brands to reach their target audiences. Spotify alone has over 135 million monthly active ad-supported users and more than half of UK adults listen to digital audio each week.

To celebrate creativity in this space, we’ve launched a new audio collection on Creative Works and asked creatives to talk about their favourite audio. This week Matt Lever, chief creative officer at BMB, shares his selection.

I’ve been trying to write this piece on my favourite audio for the last hour, but I’ve fallen down an audio wormhole, listening to my favourite ads. Over 20 years old, but still as fresh as a recently refrigerated daisy, Bud Light’s ‘Real Men of Genius’ campaign is a lesson in every aspect of audio creativity (including some that we creatives are prone to occasionally turning our mildly pretentious noses up at).

Each 60” spot opens with exactly the same distinctive, instrumental piece of anthemic, 80s style rock music (sonic branding), before we hear a deadpan announcer utter the words “Bud Light presents, Real Men of Genius” (brand name up front) before quickly being echoed by the dulcet soft-rock tones of “Eye of the Tiger” warbling, Survivor frontman Dave Bickler (jingle number 1).

What follows in each spot is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the kind of man who makes America great. Except they’re not movie stars, politicians or artists, they’re heroes of a different kind. Men who walk to their own tune, do whatever they want regardless of how they look, or invent things that make the average Joe’s life a little bit better. The kind of guys who’d drink a light beer without caring how it makes them look (brand relevance).

We meet “Mr Silent Killer Gas Passer” with whom “a simple elevator ride is suddenly a 42 floor plummet into the very bowels of hell”. We’re introduced to “Mr Really Stinky Breath Breather Outer”, who “puts the hell in halitosis”. We marvel at “Mr Professional Figure Skater” (“skate perfectly and you’re a crowd pleaser, mess up and fall on your butt and you’re still a crowd pleaser”) and share a stall with “Mr Rest Room Toilet Paper Refiller” who “like a brave soldier storms hostile territory, delivering much needed supplies to his men”.

I could go on, because they made two hundred ads. TWO HUNDRED 60 SECOND ADS. Every script is hilarious - the copywriting effortless and engaging - one liner upon one liner, backing vocal flourish upon backing vocal flourish. Perfect little characterisations that entertain and conjure up vivid images in your mind. Plus, each spot finishes with a reminder to crack open an ice-cold Bud Light (invitation to purchase) and a final reprise of our hero’s moniker (jingle number 2). What a campaign. What a reminder of how good audio can be when you really commit to it.

It’s a shame really that they didn’t end the run with a spot entitled “Mr Peerless audio advertising writer”, because for me, this campaign genuinely is a real work of genius.

Next up, an ad from closer to home and a reminder that sometimes just being very silly is more than enough. ‘Hello David’ is a spot that reminds the listener that the electronic traffic control in a Toyota Avensis can cut your journey time. Not the sexiest brief. But by making this apparent benefit the source of cringe-making comedy, we have an ad that is forever lodged in my mind.

Two office workers mock their soon-to-arrive client’s comedically squeaky voice by impersonating him, much to their mutual amusement. Except he catches them in the act, having got there ahead of time by virtue of his trusty Japanese saloon. The script is 35 seconds of brilliantly crafted daftness (the phrase “how are you” is repeated 11 times with joyful excitement by the actors from The League of Gentlemen - it’s ridiculous, in a good way), punctuated by an Exocet endline that lands the proposition perfectly. Like an early 2000s Avensis, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Twice a month the user submitted work from our audio collection is judged by Spotify and the winner is featured in our Creative Works newsletter. If you would like your work to be considered, submit it here or contact editorial@thedrum.com if you're new to Creative Works.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.