With Super Bowl XLV broadcast into millions of homes last Sunday, brands geared up their most entertaining ads for the massive audience. One of the most memorable was Super Bowl mainstay Budweiser's Wild West, a highly entertaining spot starring Coen Brothers darling Peter Stourmare, set in the dusty frontier world of the popular American imagination. But before agency Anomaly could pitch the spot to Budweiser - they engaged LAUNCH to create a CG animatic of their idea.
In Budweiser's Super Bowl spot, Wild West, Fear grips a small town - ladies fling shutters closed; men flee down alleys - as a villainous cowboy arrives, loads his six-shooter, and steps into the swinging-door saloon. As the ladies of the house flee upstairs to safety and the nervous bartender struggles to compose himself, the varmint walks menacingly toward the bar, his boots clomping on the wooden floorboards. From beneath the veil of his hat, the intimidating man declares, as he fingers his six-shooter, "Give me a Bud." The bartender squeals in fear, "We just ran out."
Meanwhile, the spot cuts to film of a four-horse wagon charging across the prairie, loaded with cases of ice-cold Budweiser. The treasure arrives at the saloon just in time for the bartender to slide a beer toward the cowboy, who effortlessly flips the cap off and takes a swig. The delicious taste brings an immediate transformation in the formerly menacing man, who smiles, places his gun on the table, and launches into the lyrics of Elton John's Tiny Dancer. The shocked customers pause for a moment and then join him in his revelry. Soon, the piano man begins tapping out the notes and the whole place is swaying, arms locked, singing in unison from the floor and balconies alike.
"While we have many projects of this size and scale currently in production, this idea really stood out for us, with its unique combination of history and humor," noted LAUNCH Director Ryan Zorad, who took the lead on the project. "Whenever people think of the Wild West, there are a number of instant iconic things that they look for and recognize, and that includes shot selection - thus the wide shots of the running horses or the close-ups of the cowboy's spurred boots hitting the ground. Everyone was excited right from the start to see to what degree we could accomplish this look and feel. The level of detail that the agency provided set us up for success from the beginning. They had a solid starting idea and we just had to hammer out the visual execution."
As with all animatics, the final spot is expected to vary to some degree from the preproduction piece. "There is always some spontaneous creativity when you get a director really going to work, especially with a period piece like this, in which there are so many possible dimensions that could be incorporated," continued Zorad. "Nonetheless, our role is to lay the foundation for a great spot, setting the overall tone and look and laying out the basic storyline before the live-action director takes control."