Bud Light Reimagines Iconic Campaign in ‘Stay at Home Humans of Genius’ Ads

The first version of the spots ran in the late '90s

a person sitting in an office chair with genius below them
This campaign marks the third rendition of Bud Light's iconic 'Real Men of Genius' campaign. Bud Light

Key insight:

Bud Light just brought back its classic tribute to under-appreciated geniuses—but this time with a new shelter-in-place twist.

In four new spots, the Anheuser-Busch brand salutes “Stay at Home Humans of Genius,” who make quarantining a little easier on the rest of us by making up new sports, singing from their balconies, giving enthusiastic air high fives or sharing creative (yet questionable) new recipes.

“In this unprecedented time of social distancing, Bud Light wants to celebrate those making staying at home more fun for us all,” said Bud Light digital marketing director Conor Mason in a statement.

The new campaign harks back to Bud Light’s popular “Real Men of Genius” campaign, which ran from 1998 through 2007 and paid homage to stereotypical male faux pas, like painfully obvious toupees or really bad dancers.

The idea got a more era-appropriate update last year, which the brand called “Real Internet Heroes of Genius,” dropping the single-gendered language in a subtle acknowledgment that men aren’t the only humans who drink beer. Those ads saluted the people who accidentally go viral, successfully create a brand voice for obscure products, share their streaming passwords or edit Wikipedia pages.

The new campaign gives its geniuses the same classic soundtrack: an epic, ’90s-era intro in which an enthusiastic singer riffs on the unique achievements of those honored in the spots. The aspirational blue sky and puffy white clouds from the original spots are also a backdrop for the ads, as well as the deep, dramatic voiceover.

Bud Light is also encouraging fans to participate by tagging friends in the comments of its campaign posts on social media and thanking them for something they’ve done to make quarantine easier.

It’s not the first Anheuser-Busch brand to lean on nostalgia for Covid-era marketing. Just a couple weeks ago, Budweiser reimagined its 1999 “Whassup” ad as a way to encourage people to check in with one another during quarantine.

@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.