Budweiser Looks for America in the Pacific Northwest in This Character-Driven Documentary

Road trippin' with PB& and director Tony Fulgham

Hey, Ayron Jones, Nong Poonsukwattana and Chris Morgan. This Bud’s for you!

Jones plays wicked hot guitar. Poonsukwattana came to America from Bangkok with just $70 and started her own successful, quirky restaurant. And Morgan’s an ecologist who gets up close and personal with all sorts of wildlife.

We meet these diverse folks, all denizens of the Pacific Northwest, in a new eight-minute Budweiser film directed by Tony Fulgham and developed with ad shop PB&.

“‘Beer culture’ is very prominent in the Northwest part of the country,” Ricardo Marques, marketing vp at Budweiser, tells Adweek. “We know that people here support brands with stories, purpose and values. It’s about taking our values as a brand and using that as an authentic platform.”

Fulgham and his crew spent a full day getting to know and filming each subject, who also appear in short individual clips.

Here’s Jones, wielding a fierce ax at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle:

Next, Poonsukwattana explains why her menu features only one main dish:

Finally, Morgan relates some grizzly tales from the great outdoors:

“The bears footage in there is actually b-roll of Chris,” says PB& principal Britt Fero. “Though he did tell us, ‘Yeah, there’s probably a bear right over there,’ and we’d all turned our heads waiting for a giant animal to appear.”

All in all, Bud’s road trip provides a diverting ride. Jones, Poonsukwattana and Morgan make for engaging subjects, and Fulgham, with his brimming beard and disarming demeanor, comes off as a cross between your favorite sociology professor and a flesh-and-blood roaming gnome.

If the creative approach feels familiar, that’s because it cruises in more or less the same lane as recent excursions from Square (which poignantly captured one immigrant’s experience in Knoxville, Tenn.), Volkswagen (in its fervent though fictional star-spangled odyssey) and Chevrolet (which hit the highway to explore aspects of the “Canadian dream”).

Bud’s effort feels less organic than Square’s—mainly because the latter’s software helps its subject, a falafel-house owner, do business—though it’s more laid back and amiable than VW’s intense expedition.

Mostly, it echoes Chevy’s campaign with its appeal to patriotism and emphasis on character traits like ambition, integrity and hard work. For the most part it succeeds, though the subject selection and Northwest focus feel sort of random. (The region was chosen based on its reputation for pioneering and innovation.)

Another peeve: Branded content usually works best when it keeps promotional elements to a minimum. Here, we open with a product shot and Bud’s year-old “America Is in Your Hands” positioning. Later, at various points, Fulgham sips brews with his subjects, who ultimately offer their takes on the famous tagline “This Bud’s for you.”

To be fair, closing on that iconic motto feels super inclusive and works well in context—even though, from our perspective, the branding cup runneth over.

Client: Budweiser
Agency: PB&
Principal: Britt Fero
Director of Content: Pete Anderson
Creative: Meredith Abbott
Strategist: Ben Salaman
Director/Creative Director: Tony Fulgham
Executive Producer/Producer: Sarah Shipley
Director of Photography: Carrie Robinson
Editor: Andy Seaver