NEW YORK (AP) — Harry Caray, this Bud’s for you.
Anheuser-Busch has honored the legendary sportscaster, who died in 1998 having not seen his beloved Cubbies make it to the World Series, with a video that has him calling the end of Game 7 this week, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in an extra-inning nail biter. The brewer also resuscitated 1984 Budweiser ad in which the Bud pitch man, and Bud lover, caught a cold one launched into the Wrigley Field bleachers using a net.
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The company, working with marketers, moved quickly to create the video that would capitalize on one of the greatest feel-good sports moments in more than a century. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.
During the 16 years that Caray called games at Wrigley, the Cubs made it to the post season but twice, never making it to the big game. He died several months before the start of the 1998 season, when the Cubs advanced to the National League Division Series, only to be swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Anheuser-Busch video with Caray calling the final out of this year’s World Series, was conceived of only about 10 days ago and spliced together with audio from Caray’s days as a Cubs broadcaster, said Ricardo Marques, a vice president at Budweiser.
With the blessing of the Harry Caray estate and Chicago’s WGN network, a team from Budweiser and the agency VaynerMedia in New York culled through archives of yesteryear’s games between the Cubs and the Indians, and also games with big finishes, to set up the illusion.
A separate crew worked throughout Wednesday night to capture video of fans in and around Wrigley Field as game seven unfolded. They could have used stock footage, Marques said, but everyone wanted something that looked very real.
The final two-minute video was approved at 5:30 a.m. Thursday and went online around 7 a.m. Budweiser is currently working on an ad that runs shorter than the original two-minute version, slated to air on TV this weekend.
Allen Adamson, head of the New York consulting firm Brand Simple, calls the campaign a “Smart way to bring in the history, brand equity and nostalgia together and be relevant in the moment.”
Anheuser-Busch, based in St. Louis, Missouri, has been the official beer sponsor of Major League Baseball for more than 30 years. The brewery’s ties to Caray stretch back to the 1980s, when he pitched the brew as a “Cubs Fan Bud Man.”
Caray is still revered in Chicago, where a statue of the broadcaster outside of Wrigley Field features an outstretched hand which, coincidentally, holds a can of Budweiser quite snugly.