Steve Buscemi has gone bowling before — but not quite like this.
The actor, who played the bothersome kegler Donny Kerabatsos in the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski,” is hanging out at a bowling alley once again, and this time he’s at the center of activity. In a new series of Super Bowl ads for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Michelob Ultra, the “Boardwalk Empire” star works at the Superior Bowl, where athletes including Peyton Maning, Serena Williams, Jimmy Butler, Nneka Ogwumike, Brooks Koepka and Alex Morgan hang out and help promote a suite of Ultra products.
“I didn’t even try and bowl while I was there,” says Buscemi, who did in fact get bowling lessons for the Coen Brothers’ “Lebowski,” but hasn’t really thrown strikes and spares in a while. “I’m not going to embarrass myself. I’ll just hang out and do my job.”
His assignment, along with the athletes, is to warm Super Bowl viewers to the idea of buying Michelob Ultra, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer.
Viewers across the country will see spots for at least two of the products. The 60-second ad with Buscemi, Manning and Williams will appear first, followed later by a a separate ad featuring Koepka picking up a Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. Viewers in ten local markets in the southeast – a stronghold for the brand – will see a separate ad featuring Becky G. trying a Michelob Ultra Pure Gold lager. All the ads will appear in the same quarter, so viewers sense some continuity, says Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing for Michelob Ultra in the U.S.
The company believes the array of top athletes and the episodic storytelling will get viewers to remember its messages, says the executive. “It’s very important that we get people talking about and engaging with our story, in this case Michelob Ultra, more than other brands.”
Michelob Ultra has been in the Anheuser-Busch stable for years, but it may be of new importance to the brewing giant as more young consumers grow focused on health and wellness. The brew has long been targeted at consumers with active lifestyles. “There is a rise in the segment of consumers who are looking for options that are zero-carbs, zero sugar, but still great taste,” says Marques.
Buscemi has been here before. He appeared in a Snickers Super Bowl ad alongside Danny Trejo, and did a quirky impression of Jan Brady.
He isn’t trying to reprise his “Lebowski” role but thinks some viewers will envision him as his old character anyway, “I don’t want to be Donny. I didn’t get into that territory because I have such respect for that character in the film, but I get the joke,” he says. He thinks viewers will, too.