Writer, Director and most recently Senior Vice President/Group
Creative Director at DDB Chicago Inc., is renowned for creating
some of the worlds best advertising for Anheuser-Busch’s
Budweiser and Bud Light brands. John’s leadership, creativity
and ability to work under intense daily pressure of Anheuser-Bush
earned him the respect and trust of both his peers and clients.
John and his team generated some of the most memorable,
entertaining and award-winning advertising for Bud Light and
Budweiser and they’ve helped Bud Light continue it’s string of
seven consecutive years of double-digit growth as the #1 selling
beer in the world.
John crafted and led Bud Light’s hilarious
and hugely successful “Real Men Of Genius” advertising
campaign, one of the most-awarded campaigns in history. The
campaign, and John’s spots in particular (“Mr. Foot-Long Hot
Dog Inventor,” “Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer,” “Mr. Fancy
Coffee Shop Pourer,” and “Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer”
among many others), has garnered unprecedented media attention and
accolades from everyone from Howard Stern and radio DJ’s in all
major markets, The Today Show and The Chicago Tribune to regular
guys all across the country. John took the campaign to the next
level by writing and directing some of the “Genius” television
spots which broke on national television in early 2004.
Budweiser’s ubiquitous “True” campaign,
observed by Advertising Age’s Bob Garfield as “a shrewd and
trenchant observer of human behaviour,” which “proves
advertising can be art,”, also reflects John’s astute eye for
the universal experience. John’s ability to regale viewers with
the ridiculous in the everyday encounter not only connects with
the consciousness of the target beer audience (males21-34) but
transcends it by revealing common truths through which we canal
laugh at ourselves. John’s commercials, “Huge,”
“Birthmark,” “Wedding Toast,” and “Who Would You?” are
prime examples of this. John’s comedic writing skills also
catapulted Cedric The Entertainer to a household name after his
starring role in the 21 ranked Superbowl commercial in 2001 and
many subsequent Bud Light Commercials written and/or overseen by
John’s cinematic vision led Anheuser-Busch
in it’s first foray into movies when he became Budweiser’s
first original filmmaker in 2002. John conceived, wrote and
co-directed Budweiser’s first short films entitled, “The Best
Man,” and “Gas, Food, Beer” which aired on Kevin Spacey’s
Triggerstreet Films’ and Budweiser’s websites, VH1, The Comedy
Channel and USA Network.
John led the creation and production of over
200 television and radio commercials a year for his clients and
supervised a team of 40 employees while at DDB. John currently
writes and directs for Hollywood television and film projects. He
recently developed and co-created a comedy sitcom pilot that was
picked up by NBC as it’s biggest commitment of the year. John
also continues to write and direct television and radio
commercials, and is pioneering the creation of branded
entertainment properties for corporate clients with
marketing-based content that entertains and informs.
John’s latest work includes a campaign for
Chrysler and two spots for IFC
Bud Light Presents Real Men Of Genius
Anheuser - Busch Real Men of Genius and Real
American Heroes is the most successful award campaign in Radio
RADIO-MERCURY AWARD 2000,RADIO SILVER 2001,BRONZE 2000
RADIO-MERCURY AWARD 2001,RADIO SILVER 2001,BRONZE 2001
RADIO GOLD - 2002, RADIO SILVER 2002,RADIO BRONZE 2002
TELEVISION/CINEMA, BRONZE, 2002
RADIO GOLD - 2003,RADIO SILVER 2003,RADIO BRONZE 2003
RADIO GOLD & GRAND CLIO - 2004,RADIO SILVER 2004
RADIO GOLD - 2005
makes TV ads based on its 'Real Men of Genius' radio commercials By
Radio commercials are hardly the stuff of pop-culture buzz
these days, not with
television and the Internet blasting away at consumers.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise that one of Anheuser-Busch Cos.'
longest-running - and most honored - ad campaigns never made it to the
screen. Until now.
St. Louis-based brewer recently opened the first of what will be several
versions of its "Real Men of Genius" radio commercials for Bud
executives say they hope to translate the series' extraordinary popularity
the radio into the company's next big TV campaign, just in time for
sports-heavy fall and winter schedules.
Since its debut four years ago, "Real Men of Genius" has earned
laughs and nearly every major advertising award.
The 30-second spots feature an over-the-top, 1980s-style rock ballad
sung by David Bickler, the former lead singer of "Survivor."
rendition of "Eye of the Tiger" was the anthem of the popular
The campaign originally was called "Real American Heroes," but
the name was
changed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The spots spoof old-fashioned beer commercials that saluted the
little guy, said John Immesoete, group creative director of DDB Chicago,
created the campaign.
"Real Men of Genius" singles out "people who make our lives
better" in the most
subtle ways, Immesoete said. They include Mr. Bowling Shoe Giver Outer,
Giant Foam Finger Inventor, Mr. Losing Locker Room Reporter, Mr. All You
Eat Buffet Inventor and Mr. Restroom Toilet Paper Refiller.
What makes the spots so appealing is smart writing that "finds sort
of a unique
individual observation that sits in the back of your head but you don't
necessarily think about," said Marc Kempter, managing director of
advertising agency in St. Louis that has done work for rival Miller
In the Mr. Fancy Coffee Shop Coffee Pourer spot, a voice asks: "What
do you do
with a master's degree in art history? You get a nose ring and pour coffee
a living," and "Why is it called a latte? Maybe because it costs
a latte and it
takes a latte time to make."
Immesoete said he and his group of writers often find inspiration in real
For instance, he noticed dieters in the cafeteria of his building put
guacamole" on their taco salads. The result: Mr. Giant Taco Salad
"You may ask if this is healthy," the commercial says. "Of
course it is. It's a
salad, isn't it?"
Recent spots have taken a "What were you thinking?" tone,
Immesoete said, such
as Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer and Mr. Tiny Thong Bikini Wearer.
As for the music, DDB Chicago approached Sandy Torano, a musician and
to write a "cheesy '80s song." Torano immediately thought of
"David Bickler is a friend of mine," said Torano, who owns
Scandal Music in
Chicago. "I told them, 'If you are going do an '80s parody, why don't
the real thing?'"
Bickler, he said, was a good sport.
"Real Men of Genius" has spawned a mini-following of sorts.
Recordings of the
music are offered for sale on eBay. Several fans have designed Web sites.
The campaign has flourished partly because it stands out against other
commercials, which tend to be loud and in-your-face, said Bob Lachky,
vice president of brand management.
"Radio is the most misused medium in advertising," he said.
Radio ads "are
typically not done well."
And that's a shame, Lachky said, because radio allows listeners "to
theater of the mind. There is a lot you could do with pacing, timing and
effects. You're asking the consumer to be involved."
Which makes turning "Real Men of Genius" into TV spots even more
Kempter, at Core. The spots work on radio because people use their
imaginations, he said.
So far, A-B has made Mr. Footlong Hot Dog Vendor and Mr. Really Bad Toupee
Wearer into TV spots.
However, Kempter said, for the toupee commercial, "there was nothing
visuals brought to the table."
Immesoete disagrees. He acknowledges that some "Real Men of
Genius" bits are
better radio commercials, but he said television offers fresh
For instance, the toupee commercial showed the reactions of attractive
a bad toupee, Immesoete said.
A-B has high hopes for "Real Men of Genius." The brewery might
use some of the
commercials for its Super Bowl lineup, Immesoete said. "TV gives it a
From AD Week
turned its lauded Bud Light radio ads into a TV campaign
Dec 1, 2003
Today we salute you,
"Real Men of Genius." When they said radio ads
couldn't make a splash, you didn't listen. While other
campaigns fizzled, you kept the laughs going strong—for
more than 80 different spots. And now, you're taking your
witty parodies to TV. So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light,
sit back and enjoy. Because the creatives that have come up
with years of mock salutes for the Anheuser-Busch brand
truly are "Real Men of Genius."
One of the charms of DDB's 5-year-old radio campaign for Bud
Light is how much fun it is to imitate. And the simple
formula—a character type that's ripe for mocking and an
announcer playing it straight along with an '80s pop
balladeer and backup singers—has made seemingly endless
variations possible. Now, with three new spots directed by
Noam Murro, DDB in Chicago and Anheuser-Busch are taking the
rare step of expanding a radio campaign to television in the
It's a gamble—the radio spots work in large part because
the people spoofed are left to the imagination—albeit one
based on a campaign that has raked in honors ranging from
Lions to Clios to Grandys to British D&AD awards to the
$100,000 prize at the Radio Mercury Awards two years in a
row. "We didn't want to disappoint with the TV
depiction and have people say, 'Gee that's not what I
thought the guy looked like,' " says Bob Lachky, vp of
brand management for A-B.
Plus, notes group creative director John Immesoete, the TV
is risky in its defiance of category convention. "It
takes every rule people have written about beer advertising
and throws it out: There has to be a cool guy in the ad. It
has to show people using the product. It has to say
something new about the product," he says. "This
is just flat-out entertainment that hits what this crowd
The first spot, "Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer,"
which broke Nov. 15 on Saturday Night Live, follows a
mattress salesman as he liberally reapplies cologne
throughout his day: a woman at a gym cringes as he walks by,
a taxi driver shuts the window between them, a customer
discreetly holds her nose. "Here a splish, there a
splash, everywhere a splish splash," the announcer
informs us. "You don't stop till every square inch of
manhood is covered." A jingle singer accents the
commentary with interruptions such as, "Everywhere a
The other spots feature "Mr. Grocery Store Cart
Wrangler," which premieres on Monday Night Football
tonight, and "Mr. Wedding Band Guitar Player,"
which does not yet have a break date. One of the three is a
"virtual certainty" for the Super Bowl, according
A-B commissioned the commercials last year after
participants in TV-oriented focus groups kept mentioning the
radio campaign. "The moderator had to remind them we
were asking them about TV," says Lachky. "Unaided
awareness was extremely high."
The campaign had already been on TV in the U.K., where six
60-second spots ran for about 18 months beginning in 2001.
(Three of the U.K. ads broke this fall in the U.S.)
"[The British] think Americans can be a little bit
pompous—they love these because they take the piss out of
Americans," says Immesoete.
U.S. creatives who had worked on the radio ads created the
spots (DMP DDB in London normally handles the brand in the
U.K.). "In the 'theater of mind' you get such a visual
picture," says creative director Bob Winter. "It
was hard to think of how to do it visually on TV."
Adds creative director Mark Gross: "The trick is, how
much do you let lyrics be funny and how much do you let the
visuals be funny? The tough thing is finding the right
The resulting U.K. spots, which promoted Budweiser, not Bud
Light, feature some goofy images: In "Mr. Really Bad
Toupee Wearer," men with odd hairpieces swim and work
out; and the viewer gets to see Dave Bickler from the band
Survivor, who sings in the radio ads, and backup singers
lip-syncing to the track.
The radio series, originally titled "Real American
Heroes," followed another popular campaign, featuring
Charlton Heston touting Bud Light in a God-like voice.
"It was a fantastic piece of radio—offbeat and
irreverent," recalls Lachky of the ads, which were on
the air for four years. "We were happy we'd carved out
an area attached to the brand that was very fun, very young,
very cut through."
When Winter, who had been working mainly on McDonald's
business, was tapped to help come up with a replacement, he
started out trying to spoof the brand's "This Bud's for
you" line. He suggested a "rug pull" spot
that at first seems to be saluting a football player but is
actually focusing on the stadium groundskeeper. When Gross
proposed using just the groundskeeper and coming up with
some other overlooked jobs, the "Real American
Heroes" concept was born. Winter came back with three
scripts, starring Mr. Bowling Shoe Giver Outer, Mr. Giant
Foam Finger Maker and Mr. Golf Ball Picker Upper.
At first, the team—which also included Bill Cimino, who
left in July to become ecd at Foote Cone & Belding in
Irvine, Calf.—wanted Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My
Wings" for the soundtrack. But, says Immeseote,
"we couldn't afford it, nor did it work very well in
the spot when it was done." Then, he says, someone
suggested going with "that '80s anthemic thing, like
'Eye of the Tiger.' " DDB was working with Scandal
Music in Chicago, whose owner, Sandy Torano, was friendly
"I thought it was a great idea," says Bickler, who
recorded his first jingle in the '70s (KFC's "Finger
Lickin' Good" campaign), sang "Eye of the
Tiger" for a Frosted Flakes ad in the '80s and more
recently contributed to Sprite's "The Uncola"
campaign. "I've done jingles for a long time, but this
is the most fun I've ever had."
The announcer proved harder to find. Immesoete says more
than 50 people read the script, but the team didn't hear
what it was looking for until Pete Stacker, a veteran
announcer on Bud Light spots, auditioned. "He really
got the joke—the announcer doesn't know he's being
funny," Immesoete says.
The client initially hesitated. "When you look at stuff
that is really sarcastic, you think, 'How's this going to
come across?' " says Lachky. "But we ran them past
the consumer, and they were a home run. Research is always
the final arbiter for us."
The stars of the ads, everyone from Mr. Garden Gnome Maker
("Anyone can dress up a yard with a shrub or some
gladiolas, but it takes real guts to use a small, brightly
colored ceramic man") to Mr. Chinese Food Delivery Guy
("Without you, we'd be forced to do the unthinkable
when we wanted Chinese: drive to a restaurant"),
quickly attracted fans. Radio DJs such as Howard Stern
talked up the spots, people created Web sites that collected
the jingles' lyrics, and tapes of them sold on eBay.
The campaign started piling up awards as well. This year, it
won a grand Clio, a grand award at the New York festivals, a
bronze Andy, two silver pencils at the D&AD awards and a
$5,000 general winner Radio Mercury prize, among others.
While Lachky wouldn't speculate about the campaign's effect
on sales, Bud Light became the No. 1 beer in the U.S. in
terms of sales in 2001—surpassing Budweiser—according to
Beer Marketer's Insights, which tracks beer brands. Last
year A-B spent about $4 million on radio for Bud Light, a
fraction of the $120 million the brewery spent on Bud Light
TV ads, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
The campaign went on hiatus after 9/11, when ads mockingly
labeled "Real American Heroes" didn't seem funny
anymore. After changing the name to "Real Men of
Genius," A-B revived the ads in early 2002. With
additions such as Mr. All You Can Eat Buffet Inventor
("You've given us the real American dream: a tray, 15
feet of food and a little sign that says, 'Go nuts buddy!'
"), the shoutouts extended beyond professions to
"people who just need to be called out to take a bow
for whatever reason," Immesoete says, and the humor
became a little more biting.
Still, the team is careful to avoid getting too outrageous.
"We did one on people who wear toupees—but we're
saying really bad toupee wearers," explains Immesoete.
"I'm sure there are a lot of great toupees out
there." One idea that never made it was Mr. Male Nurse.
"We felt like we would just piss too many people
off," says Gross. (Lachky says the spots receive few
complaints, and consumers generally "get the tonality
and think it's hilarious.")
Then there are some concepts—Mr. Pepper Mill Guy and Mr.
Soft Core Adult Filmmaker among them—that seem funny at
first but don't yield enough jokes to make it in the
campaign. Much of the humor comes out of improvisation.
"When we sit in the studio with Dave [Bickler], a lot
of times we redo them all," Immesoete says. "Once
somebody went for a Starbucks run. We ended up doing 'Mr.
Fancy Coffee Shop Pourer.' Now that one has the potential to
go to TV."
The 30-second TV spots, which Lachky says will constitute
about 40 percent of Bud Light's broadcast presence in the
next six months, condense tracks from the original 60-second
radio ads. "We wanted to create characters you can
relate to and that are believable—that is the basis for
the humor," says Murro, who works out of Biscuit
Filmworks in Los Angeles. "[That's] the difference
between my work and work done for the U.K., which I thought
took the characters and made them into caricatures."
The U.K. ads showed several people who fit the description
of the character getting spoofed and had no storyline.
"I thought there was an opportunity to use the banality
of the characters and build on that rather than exaggerate
their lives and stupefy their lives," says Murro, known
for his understated humor.
And fortunately for creatives, there's no shortage of banal
characters to draw on. "We surprise ourselves by
finding more people we haven't done before," says
Winter, asked whether the team has trouble getting inspired
after 80-plus spots. "Luckily, there's a lot of goofy
people out in the world."
Immesoete: 'Real Men's' Leading Man
"Hey, Buddy. Over here. In petites." That line
from a 1999 Bud Light spot in which guys secretly watch
football inside a clothing-store rack while their wives
shop, sums up John Immesoete's wry take on the American
male. "He's great at adding a line that really kind of
nails the spot," says Bill Cimino, who worked with
Immesoete on Anheuser-Busch from the mid-'90s until this
summer, when he left to become ecd at Foote Cone &
Belding in Irvine, Calif. "He has his finger on the
pulse of common man. Maybe it's his Midwest upbringing that
lends itself to that common denominator."
Raised in Davenport, Iowa, Immesoete, 38, studied journalism
at Iowa State University but, he readily admits,
"didn't like to do the legwork." He moved to
Chicago, signing up for comedy classes at Second City and
landing a job at Leo Burnett, where he stayed for nine
years, working for clients including McDonald's, Nintendo
and Hallmark. In 1996, Immesoete moved crosstown to DDB
because he wanted to have the chance to work on a beer
account, he says.
Along with the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius"
campaign, Immesoete's Budweiser credits include a 2002 TV
commercial showing a woman carefully choosing an anniversary
card while her partner picks up his card at a gas station as
an afterthought and a spot showcasing a wedding toast gone
While he's worked on other accounts at DDB, including
McDonald's (he was group creative director on "Tough
Day," in which a father and son have similarly rough
days at work and school), he says A-B is an ideal client
because "it's very open to doing new things. They
really love advertising and really want to do something
people will talk about and notice."
DDB's U.S. chief creative officer, Bob Scarpelli, who hired
Immesoete, describes him as "one of the best dialogue
writers I've ever met," and says he's earned A-B's
trust through "good ideas and fresh thinking."
Cimino adds that Immesoete and A-B are a good match because
of their similarly high standards. "[Immesoete] will
kill a thousand ideas before he hits the one he likes,"
Cimino says. Likewise, "[A-B] is looking to swing for
the fences, and playing on that level is not easy for
Real Men of Genius
From Wikipedia, the free
Real Men of Genius is a series of
Light beer created by Bob Winter, a copywriter at DDB
Chicago. The ad campaign, which began in 1999 under the title Real
American Heroes (changed after the September
11, 2001 attacks) and has featured over 100 installments. Some
spots were abbreviated and adapted for television beginning in
2003; the first two TV versions were "Mr. Footlong" and
Each sixty-second ad gives mock
glorification to a purported "unsung hero" or other
"man of genius." Grounds for this tribute include but
are not limited to:
the insignificance of the person's
contribution in proportion to the effort that the person
invests (e.g., "Mr. Chinese Food Delivery
the fact that the benefits of the person's
action are outweighed by its costs
(e.g., "Mr. Way-Too-Much Cologne Wearer"),
the statement that the person's action makes
about him (e.g., "Mr. Rolling Cooler Cooler
Roller") or the people who use or benefit from his
contribution (e.g., "Mr. Boneless Buffalo Wing
The ads feature an announcer Pete
Stacker and former Survivor
Bickler who echoes the announcer's sentiments over piano
music. The music was composed by Sam
Struyk and Sandy Torano at Scandal Music, Chicago.
A female gospel-style
chorus is also heard in many of the ads. A parody of this format
was used in the film "Meet the Spartans," a send-up of
the film 300.
After defeating the Persians in a dance off, King Leonidas was
praised as "Mr. Warmongering Latent Homosexual."
Anheuser-Busch changed the name Real American
Heroes after the 9/11
attacks because Anheuser-Busch felt that it could not in good
conscience continue to use the term "hero" in that
context after so many people had performed genuine acts of heroism.[citation
Since 2006, some of the commercials have been
recorded as 30-second spots. This occasional practice accommodates
the desire of Clear
Channel Radio and other radio companies to air more
commercials during breaks.[citation
In late 2006, Anheuser-Busch
sponsored a comedy tour titled "Real Men of Comedy"
Rogan, and Charlie
Murphy. This tour featured the announcer and singer from the
Real Men of Genius commercials performing several of their famous
commercials at the beginning of the show. Stacker and Bickler
performed regional versions of the spots to support Budweiser's
comedy tour at radio stations and concert-sponsored venues such as
The marketing and advertising department not
only received tremendous consumer response, but also won many
awards including the prestigious Grand Prix for Radio at the
Annual International Advertising Festival in Cannes. 
In 2003, Anheuser-Busch
decided to release Bud Light Salutes Real Men of Genius, Vol 1
exclusively through Budshop.com. Bud Light Salutes Real Men of
Genius, Vol 2 and Bud Light Salutes Real Men of Genius, Vol
3 were released soon after. This culminated in 2005 with a
limited edition compilation release: Bud Light Salutes Real Men
of Genius Volumes 1, 2 and 3.
& Volume 3 contained 20 radio spots. The limited edition
collected all 60. All versions have since gone out of print.
bud light presents real american heroes
(real american heroes)
today we salute you, mr. deli meat slicer
(mr. supermarket deli meat slicer)
to feed america's hunger, you stand dangerously close to a buzzsaw,
armed only with a salami
(just you and your salami)
behind your glass fortress you quickly fill orders as shoppers shout
"hey, i was first"
(take a number please)
and no matter what you're slicing, from bologna to liverworst, you
always hit your mark: one tenth of an ounce over
(slice slice slice just the way i like it)
so crack open an ice cold bud light oh master slicer, and remember,
when someone asks "who cut the cheese?", you can proudly say
"it was me."
(mr. supermarket deli meat slicer)
Mr. Supermarket Free Sample Guy
Bud Light Presents: Real Men of Genius
(real men of genius)
Today we salute you, Mr. Supermarket Free Sample Guy.
(Mr. Supermarket Free Sample Guy)
Though man dreads few things more than a trip to the supermarket, you
offer us hope.and sometimes a free mini-weenie.
(I love that freebie weenie!)
What exactly do you have? Aerosol cheese products? Deep-fried morsels?
Who cares! If it's on a toothpick and it's free, it could be plutonium
and we'd eat it.
(It's all good, baby!)
For a guy wearing oven mitts and an apron, you're all right.
(You're a star!)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light, titan of the toothpick, because
you put the FREE in FREEDOM.
(Let it be free!)
Mr. Bowling Shoe Giver Outer
bud light presents real american heroes
(real american heroes)
today we salute you Mr.. bowling shoe giver outer
(Mr.. bowling shoe giver outer)
your tireless efforts keep our shoes comfy and sanitized with
instinctively, you match left shoe with right
(left right left right)
carefully placing each pair in it's own tiny shoe house
(check the number on the back)
one wrong move, and we're on the fast train to blisterville
is he a nine and a half, or a ten?
you know. why? because you're Mr.. bowling shoe giver outer
(we couldn't bowl without you)
so crack open an ice cold bud light mister, and know it's no
accident that those shoes are red, white, and blue.
(no we couldn't bowl without you)
Everyday we rescue items you
see on these pages!
What do you have hiding in a closet or garage?
What could you add to the museum displays or the library?