Bud Light's twisted Super Bowl spots, featuring ex-Cali guv Arnold Schwarzenegger as a headband-wearing ping-pong player midway between Björn Borg and Chris Evert, don't appear to have a Colorado connection beyond the participation of onetime Denverite Don Cheadle, who co-stars with...a llama; see teaser clips below. But there are actually plenty of ties to our state, including Telluride native Brendan Kiernan, a local ad biz heavyweight gone big time, and Denver's own Oscar winner, director Daniel Junge.
The company behind the ads is HeLo, an agency jointly based in Venice, California and New York City. Kiernan is the company's managing director and one of its founders, while Junge, who won a Best Documentary Short Subject Academy Award in 2012 for Saving Face, about a Pakistani doctor who performs reconstructive surgery on women who've been attacked with acid, is a HeLo partner.
Via e-mail, Kiernan, who worked on the Bud Light campaign, provides some background. "I was born in Telluride and grew up near Aspen -- my dad/stepmom still live in Aspen and my mom in Telluride (she's lived there for 43 years)," he writes, adding, "I was a founding partner of an advertising agency in Boulder (Texture Media, which was sold to Crispin Porter) and a founding partner of Futuristic Films, which is Denver-based. I lived on the Front Range for eight years in Boulder and Denver. I'll always consider Colorado 'home.'"
At this point, Kiernan is keeping the specifics about the Bud Light ads quiet. But he does note that "it involves a real-world immersive experience documented with an incredibly elaborate array of hidden cameras, with the help of some great celebrities. Definitely will be very unique."
Here's a clip focusing on Schwarzenegger:
Regarding Cheadle's participation, Kiernan will only reveal that "he plays an integral role in the commercial and was a true professional to work with."
Presumably the llama was, too. Here's that video:
Kiernan played a significant part in luring Junge to HeLo; he calls him "an extraordinary documentary filmmaker who brings the ability for us to tell genuine, heartfelt and compelling stories whether they be traditional commercials, new forms of branded content or documentary films. At HeLo, he will not only be represented as a director, but serve as an executive producer for our nonfiction content projects."
Junge, also corresponding by e-mail, is clearly thrilled to be working with HeLo on a slew of intriguing projects, including Being Evel, about what he describes as the "life, times and legacy of Evel Knievel," plus Beyond the Brick, "the official LEGO documentary being made with the Danish company on the world's favorite toy," Fight Church, a "film on evangelical Christian cage fighters, including fighting pastors," and Alpha Boys, about a "school for disadvantaged boys in Jamaica that helped give birth to reggae."
As an ongoing Denver resident, Junge is definitely hoping for a Broncos victory this weekend. Kiernan, for his part, admits that "for some bizarre reason," he's a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan. But they're both rooting for Bud Light -- the brand that QB Peyton Manning recently said he wanted in his mouth after a playoffs win.
May he get another swallow soon. Here are more teasers from HeLo's Bud Light campaign.
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