PBR’s First Campaign From 72andSunny Puts a Modern Spin on Old-Timey Advertising

The cheerful spot includes collaboration from outside creatives

Pabst Blue Ribbon's new campaign features the work of artists and creators. Pabst Blue Ribbon
Headshot of Minda Smiley

It wasn’t long ago that 72andSunny’s Los Angeles office won Pabst Blue Ribbon, a brand that, at least in recent years, hasn’t done much advertising.
With a number of new offerings under its belt, including a hard coffee and line of seltzers, PBR tapped 72andSunny to help spread the word and perhaps rejuvenate the beer brand, which has long preferred to fly under the radar in hopes of appealing to the hipster demographic.
However, PBR is breaking that trend with a 30-second spot that offers a fun mix of old and new. Much of it harks back to its commercials from the 1950s, which relied on upbeat jingles and black and white animation.

While the ad is a nostalgia play of sorts, it’s also squarely aimed at Gen Z and, more generally, the artists and creators the brand wants to be associated with.
According to PBR, the agency worked with 11 creators to pull the campaign off, including baker Ashley Holt and TikTok dancer Sione Kelepi. The campaign, which is 72andSunny’s first for the brand, is in line with PBR’s longstanding commitment to supporting artists. A few years ago, it featured fan art on 6 million cans as part of its can design contest.
“PBR has a strong history of connecting with and contributing to artists, musicians and designers,” Luke Atkinson, senior vice president of marketing at PBR, said. “But we had never put this into advertising before or really done much advertising.”
He continued, “2020 is a transformative year, with the brand extending into new delicious drinks like Hard Coffee, so we felt it now was the time to take our cultural connections and explode them, using the power of an engaging, uplifting idea and mass reach.”
Atkinson said the campaign was in the works well before Covid-19 hit, but admitted that the global shutdown resulted in some hiccups along the way.
“We always intended to work with our creative community, but we were also going to combine this with some traditional production,” he explained. “Covid killed that possibility and gave us pause for thought: Our priority should be the communities that have supported us over the years. Covid is a terrible crisis, but with this work, frankly, I feel we’ve made lemonade from lemons.”
The ad is running nationally on digital and social channels throughout the summer, with a focus on key markets for the brand, including Portland and Atlanta.

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@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.