Those TV commercials for Old Milwaukee beer that Will Ferrell shot in Davenport during September were the brainchild of the actor-comedian, from idea to execution.
They began airing late last week on local television stations and cable channels that can be seen in the Quad-Cities. It is not a national advertising campaign, according to a spokeswoman for Pabst Brewing Co., the parent company of Old Milwaukee.
Ferrell did not receive any payment for doing the spots.
“Will approached Old Milwaukee because he’s a big fan of the beer and thought it would be fun to make the commercials, and we couldn’t be more excited that he did,” Bryan Crowley, Pabst Brewing’s chief marketing officer, wrote in an email sent Tuesday to the Quad-City Times.
In the first commercial, Ferrell is seen sitting on a log along the Mississippi River, extolling the virtues of drinking Old Milwaukee in Davenport. “It’s just something I do,” he tells the audience.
In the second, Ferrell is seen bobbing in the river, “hand fishing” for catfish but grabbing a can of Old Milwaukee instead.
Both ads have been posted on YouTube, with the first getting more than 32,500 views in its first five days and the second notching more than 19,000 clicks.
When asked whether there would be more of Ferrell’s Old Milwaukee commercials on the air or online, Crowley replied, “we’ll have to wait and see.”
The 44-year-old Ferrell, best known for his years on “Saturday Night Live” and movie roles such as “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy and race car driver Ricky Bobby, made a quiet entrance to the Quad-Cities in mid-September, stopping to film a commercial at the Cedar Street Inn in Davenport. None of that footage was used in the commercials that have showed up online.
Ferrell dropped in unexpectedly with a film crew at the bar not far from Fejervary Park at the corner of Cedar Street and Telegraph Road.
“We thought he was kidding,” Judy Fleetwood, who runs the bar along with her husband, Carl, told Times master columnist Bill Wundram two months ago.
The Fleetwoods were part of the filming along with bartender Jamie Fithian and two young women who were customers that day.
“When Ferrell finished after about an hour-and-a-half of shooting, he sat down for a beer and bought everyone in the house a drink,” Judy Fleetwood said. “We still don’t have any idea how, and why, he chose us for a commercial.”