If you’ve been watching the NCAA tournament at all this year, you’ve probably already seen this commercial about three dozen times:
Considering that it centers around a first date between two people who’ve met online, I figured it would be fun to talk about it some…especially since I haven’t broken down any TV commercials around here lately.
So let’s get into it.
First of all, if you look at the various comments people have left on YouTube about this commercial it’s fairly obvious that it pretty much gets on people’s nerves. I mean, I even took the video directly from Bud Light’s official YouTube channel and…yikers, the hate is right out there.
Some of that vitriol is surely driven by how often ESPN plays the blasted thing. Yes, enough is enough.
Even with that aside, however, there’s indeed a lot that’s pretty silly about it. No, people don’t toast each other with “Here we go”, especially on first dates. And no, two people probably aren’t going to even be drinking Bud Light on a first date.
But the way I look at it, you’re going to have to allow some “creative license” there for Anheuser-Busch to pitch their brand. After all, it’s their commercial, right?
For my part, I don’t personally think any self-respecting, red-blooded guy lets someone else pour his beer for him…especially at a casual joint like the one the couple’s apparently hanging out in. But maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, let’s get to the important part here. As a dating adviser by trade, I find that there’s a LOT about this commercial that’s worth talking about. Here are seven key moments in the ad:
1) “That’s why I can’t go back to Cleveland ever again.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I did a Google search for this commercial and read most of the commentary that exists out there on it already.
It’s safe to say that many, many people have completely missed the point of what’s really going on as this spot gets rolling.
No, dude. The guy isn’t disclosing that he’s been slapped with some sort of court order banning him from the city of Cleveland. And it’s equally unlikely that he’s bringing up outstanding warrants for his arrest in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Obviously, that sort of stuff would be neither smart nor effective to talk about during first-date conversation.
What he is doing, however, is wrapping up what was probably a funny story about something that happened in Cleveland. If I had to guess, I’d say that his tale was probably a bit self-deprecating in that he experienced some embarrassment, yet it was told in a way that made him ultimately look better and smarter than whoever or whatever he got crossways with.
No matter what, aggrandizing the whole situation to imply that he probably should avoid going to Cleveland again in the future is simply a comic device.
If the guy did, in fact, do what I’m thinking he did, the desired effect would be to help the woman feel more comfortable with him, as he’s not necessarily “Mr. Perfect”. That alone helps women feel less nervous–a major plus on first dates.
But there’s more. If he told the story as an “us vs. them” allegory, then the point would be that he’s just not the kind of guy who fits in there. The genius behind that is that if the girl can in fact relate to his viewpoint rather than Cleveland’s, then it’s money in the bank for the guy. All of the sudden, they’re both on the same team. Nice.
Okay, okay…I’m reading quite a bit into the situation there. But if anything, I’ve just shared with you the sort of thing the guy might have said to elicit a positive result from the girl, which he clearly did.
2) The Toast
I like the idea of proposing a toast with a woman on first dates, primarily because it’s a social grace that signals a social bond of some sort.
But I especially like how the guy in the commercial did it. While some people might suspect he “gave his power away” by telling her she looked like her profile picture, I don’t see it that way at all.
Rest assured, she can indeed take his toast as a compliment. But it’s not a needy, desperate one that demonstrates he might think of her as “out of his league”. Rather, it’s a simple, straightforward acknowledgment that she hasn’t disappointed him. The end result isn’t that she’s placed on a pedestal, but that she–again–feels comfortable with him. That’s why his toast is nothing short of brilliant.
3) Her Response
Note that she very clearly follows his lead with an attempt to help communicate the same emotion back to him. Her desire is to let him know that she’s not disappointed with him either, although she’s still a bit more timid about it. She simply tells him she’s glad he doesn’t have a mustache.
Now, I think it’s important to note here that women won’t always be as bold on first dates as guys will, so the writers of this commercial were sneaky-good here.
Essentially, what the guy was doing was issuing what a subtle example of what I’d call a “Boomerang Compliment”. In other words, he complimented the woman in a way that she could theoretically mirror right back at him.
A clearer example of a “Boomerang Compliment” would be someone who knows he or she has amazingly beautiful eyes complimenting someone else on his or her eyes. It would be perfectly logical to get a response to the effect of, “Thanks…so do you.” Getting that response would be at least a subtle indicator of mutual attraction, since anyone who isn’t attracted would probably avoid returning the compliment.
And true to form in this case, she’s telling him that his appearance has met or exceeded her expectations.
4) The Stand
Again, this is a subtle move on the part of the guy, but it pays big dividends.
When she expresses relief that he doesn’t have a mustache, he doesn’t simply play along and nod his head. What she’s saying isn’t completely accurate, so he challenges her statement. It’s in a decidedly friendly and non-threatening way, but he nevertheless demonstrates that he’s not in total agreement with her and the non-verbal signal is that he thinks what she said was even kind of weird.
This seems like such a minor detail, but you’d be shocked at how many times guys are so eager to please and so afraid of offending women on first dates that they really would just let something like this go.
Not our hero in the commercial. He shows personal strength and confidence in himself by disagreeing with her…just a tad bit. He’s not belligerent or rude to her in any way, he simply calls it the way he sees it.
Incidentally, note the lightning speed with which she clarifies herself. She’s all about getting back on the same page with him.
5) The Rescue
This is my favorite part of the commercial. After showing that he can stand up to her and reading her somewhat defensive response as an eagerness on her part to please him, he looks out for her best interests by giving her an “easy out” with some well-placed humor.
By changing the toast to, “Here’s to you not having a mustache” he diffuses any light tension with a laugh. By that point, the woman senses that he’s truly a master at helping her feel comfortable, even as he’s projected the personal power of a confident leader.
6) The Confession
At this point in the commercial, the woman reveals to the guy that she had invited several friends along who would allegedly have her back were the date to have turned out to be a “total train wreck”.
In case it isn’t obvious, this is the coup d’etat. That’s her announcing to him in no uncertain terms that she indeed likes him and is having a great time.
Note that this moment came courtesy of his leadership, starting (at least objectively speaking) with The Toast.
Also pay attention to the fact that both of them visibly loosen up right then, especially when he reveals he had a “contingency plan” of his own. It’s “game on” from there as the commercial fades.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a few more general themes going on in this commercial.
First, while I’m certainly aware that this ad is mostly targeting men, it’s worthwhile to mention that the dude is pretty average looking, whereas the girl is absolutely beautiful. She may not be your type, but you have to admit she’s got that natural “girl next door” thing going on. Yet, they seem “believable” as a couple. That, to me, is significant and speaks volumes.
Next, note the casual, laid-back demeanor of the guy. Whereas most guys are wadded up in nerves on first dates, this guy appears to be as cool as a cucumber.
What’s more, he’s simply relaxed and going with the flow. It would seem that he’s okay whether the date goes well or otherwise. He’s never crowding the table or showing signs of neediness. You can just sense that this guy believes he has other options and is therefore a “chooser” rather than a “chaser”.
There’s almost an Adam Sandler-like quality to how he presents himself. He’s collected, yet slightly-deprecating with a flair for quick-witted conversation. All of that is based on learned skills.
It’s also exceptionally important to note the sexual dynamic at play. There’s clearly male/female polarity, as both of them are talking to each other in a way that they decidedly wouldn’t to someone of their respectively same gender. The attraction is ramped up with every move. But…the guy never feels compelled to insert sexual innuendo of any kind. He’s implicitly trusting his “big four” traits to carry attraction for him.
Meanwhile, yes…the girl kind of missteps socially with the whole mustache thing, and if anything appears at first a bit more on-edge than he does. But thanks to his leadership, everything comes around. And hey, she’s pretty endearing overall so everything ostensibly ends well.
For sure, there’s quite a bit to take away from this commercial for both men and women. But I’m still not going to start drinking Bud Light anytime soon.
P.S. What do you think? Am I on-point or did I overlook the most important part of the commercial? Do you think this guy should have simply taken her to a coffee shop first if he wasn’t sure she’d look like her pics? How many first dates would it take for “newbies” to stop bringing a posse of friends with them on first dates? And how dateless were these two to even have their friends agree to that to begin with? Let me know your opinions below…