Canadian Budweiser Super Bowl ad gives beer league hockey players pro treatment

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

The NFL Super Bowl is, well, the Super Bowl for U.S. television commercials. Big advertisers compete to one-up each other with dazzling and/or funny spots that often outshine the game itself.

But an ad destined for the American football classic's Canadian broadcast is making waves, good waves, among advertising experts and hockey fans. It's already pushing half a million views on YouTube since its Feb. 2 release.

Budweiser Canada made arrangements to have TV cameras shoot a recreational league hockey game near Toronto.

"We told two Port Credit, Ont., teams we were shooting a documentary about rec league hockey," says the intro to the ad. "We lied."

Instead, Budweiser's ad agency, Anomaly, arranged for a flash mob dressed in the teams' colours, complete with face paint, to flood onto the community rink's stands to cheer on the beer league regulars. They were augmented by team mascots and professional sports announcers calling the game.

The result was players taken completely off guard and reacting spontaneously to the crowd chemistry. The feel was completely authentic. Even the 4-3 overtime result, apparently, was unscripted.

The commercial that gives these rec-league stalwarts a taste of NHL-level attention is drawing warm reviews.

"Seriously, if you don't feel anything watching that guy sitting on the ice at the end, you're dead inside," the ironically named Jeff Beer writes on

"Flash mobs—I guess they're still good for something. Nice work by Anomaly," quips Adweek writer Tim Nudd.

Canada has a track record of memorable beer ads, such as Molson's legendary "I am Canadian" spot.

But Canadian Business's Jeff Beer says the Canadian ad industry and beer brands should ask themselves: "Why it took an American agency, New York-based Anomaly, and an American beer brand to make the best Canadian beer ad in recent memory?"

Yes, Beer concedes, Anomaly is owned by Toronto's MDC Partners, but "this spot should put Canadian beer advertisers on notice."

Over to you, Molson ...