Maybe it’s because Super Bowl LIII sucked out loud, but on Monday morning I’m left thinking about this commercial. We witnessed a murder, a real, Gods-honest murder of Bud Light’s mascot in a way that was so embarrassing, so over-the-top that you’d think it was created by a competitor, not Budweiser itself.
Mascots normally just disappear when an ad campaign ends. They entertain us, get stuck in our heads and just leave, only to be replaced with the next catchy thing. I still cannot believe that Bud Light spent millions of dollars on a Super Bowl spot, just to horrifically murder the Bud Knight using a weird Game of Thrones tie-in.
They didn’t just kill Bud Knight, he was brutalized. Somehow a one minute ad spot managed to have him getting knocked off a horse, killed by The Mountain and then, just when you think the dragon is going to save the day, you realize his remains were just burned to a crisp because dragons are only loyal to Daenerys Targaryen, not alcoholic beverages.
When the Taco Bell Chihuahua’s watch was done we didn’t hear about how Gidget died of a stroke in 2009, or continue to follow the careers of the “Whassup?” guys. We never found out whether Mayor McCheese brought universal healthcare to McDonaldland, or if Domino’s Noid died while returning to his home planet.
The Bud Knight though ... super dead.
Perhaps the weirdest part of all this is that I don’t know who the ad was supposed to target. Was there a slice of the Venn diagram that showed that beer drinkers and Game of Thrones fans needed their blood lust catered to so specifically? What did either side have to gain from this? It’s not like people are confused about what Bud Light is, or what Game of Thrones is.
Look, maybe this is one of those “he’s not really dead” things, and in a year we’ll get The Bud Knight Rises, but if so then Bud Light broke the golden horror movie rule: Something is actually dead if you see the body. Also they’re really pushing the concept that the Knight is totally gone.
The best part of all this is that somehow HBO got to call all the shots with this ad. Budweiser became uncomfortable with the direction of the ad, according to a report from Morningstar — but lost the fight.
Bud initially agreed. But uneasy with the violence, the company wobbled as filming began -- even suggesting alternative ideas such as having the Knight get beaten up, but live.
HBO’s Marketing Chief Chris Spadaccini said he made it clear: “The Bud Knight had to die.”
Somehow, some way HBO got to completely murder Bud Light’s brand mascot and Budweiser didn’t get anything in return, outside of an ad that people aren’t really talking about on Monday morning. Except for me, because I’m obsessed with how this came to pass — and I’ll be thinking about it all day.
RIP Bud Knight.