‘A Hero’s Welcome’ Commercial Hits the Spot

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Redeploying soldier running into the arms of his girlfriend – check. Banners, signs and cheers form the whole town – check. Surprise welcome home parade – check.

Shown during the Super Bowl – double check.

Every year we are on the lookout for military honors during America’s biggest sports, broadcast and advertising event. Even if you thought the game itself was boring (or are feeling very sad because your team lost miserably), you gotta hand it to them – they do military tributes right.

First we had a joint-force choir, including the USAF Sing Sergeants, backing up Renee Fleming during the National Anthem (new contender for best anthem performance ever? I think so). Then they showed deployed servicemembers in Afghanistan. Then there was the flyover by US Army helos (see a video from one of the cockpits here!). Then there was the 30 seconds of servicemember greetings during Bruno Mars’ halftime performance.

But the Budweiser commercial took the cake. And I don’t mean the one with the cute puppy.

Budweiser partnered the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to surprise a redeployment soldier with a homecoming parade. They solicited applications via the VFW’s website. Army girlfriend and Senate staffer Shannon Cantwell nominated her soon to return  Fort Rucker based Army boyfriend, Lt. Charles Nadd, for the honor. He was returning from an 8-month deployment to Afghanistan.

According to this story, Nadd had been told by his commanding officer that he was flying to his hometown of Winter Park, Fla. Jan. 8 to speak to the VFW. He was planning to meet his girlfriend at the airport. He was not expecting what happened next.

Instead of driving home and speaking to the VFW, he was met by banners, confetti and an honest-to-God parade.

The minute-long commercial, which aired during the second half of the Super Bowl, is touching. But the behind-the-scenes video is gut wrenching.

When Budweiser worked with the VFW to set this whole thing up, what they got was the perspective of a lot of veterans who not only didn’t have a welcome home parade, but instead had scorn.

“Every now and then someone will come up and say ‘thank you,’ and it really means a lot because we didn’t get it when we came home,” Jim Pope, a Vietnam veteran says in the video.

But it was veteran Dave Caroll who really got me.

“We didn’t tell anyone we were in Vietnam. And that’s why … ” And that’s pretty much all he got out before starting crying and waved the camera away.

Sure, this whole thing made feel overwhelming proud of my own servicemember and of America in general. But that wasn’t the biggest thing I took away.

Some have called this “marketing brilliance.” I don’t know about that. What I do know is that, like the folks in the behind the scenes video said, this made me want to say “thank you.”

“America needs to understand what this represents. You ask ‘do you know someone who served in Iraq and Afghanistan?’ typically the answer is going to be ‘no.’” said John Hamilton, a Vietnam Veteran. “So it doesn’t affect them personally so they tend to forget. Not that they don’t care. America does care.”

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • spouse2000

    I loved that the girlfriend was very happy to share his home coming and how happy he was to see his mother.

  • guest

    Yes military tributes at football games are perfectly timed and organized to maximize tugging on the heart strings of military families, while making Americans feel like they did something for them and can thus ignore them again.
    Stop Reunion Pr0n now! It actually increases the civilian military divide the same way the faux “Thank you for your service” while I put your job application in the round file does.

    • jojo613

      I completely agree. Would not believe the number of negative comments I saw from my non-military friends on Facebook. I personally would not want that kind of welcome home (namely because we have a two-week rule regarding in-laws visiting post-deployment, and I would kill my MIL, because she would push me out of the way). I pointed out Keep Your Promise to some of them that made their opinions known.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      First of all, nice job saving yourself from our spam filter. Well played :-).

      I’ve heard this argument a few places today and the one hand, I’m totally with you. I was thinking about it and honestly, I usually come down on your side with this kind of thing. I am not fast to tolerate people taking advantage of the military, as you may have noticed in the past.

      However, this time, well, I dunno. It was nice. I liked it. I liked seeing those Vietnam Vets getting misty eyed. I liked seeing the banners and signs.

    • buck

      I agree 100% . This stuff has to be cooked up with the same folks that approved the 1% cola cut for retirees. Sad is what it is… Here is something I do as a retiree and as a consumer. I always ask if a Military Discount is available for any good or service I am about to spend money on. If the answer is ” No, Sir. but we truly appreciate your service “, I start in on the whole ” Men and Women who serve in Uniform ensure the ability to operate a free market economy, capitalism and any other form of business operating inside and outside of the United States continues without interruption”. I also make it known that Military members have shed blood in order to make the world safer for Capitalism… A 10% price break for Military folks will not cause their business to go into financial ruin and the discount isn’t just for me it’s for America. If after all of that they still say NO, I don’t every do business with them . I’m sure if more vets,active duty , reserve whatever folks do the same, there would be a change in the ” Thanks for your service” party line.

      • G I Joe

        I agree, it’s all propaganda.

  • sabrinacking

    I’m so torn….on the one hand, we want them to feel appreciated, they are so deserving. But on the other…don’t we do enough hero worship in the military? Isn’t that hero worship the very thing which causes all sorts of toxicity inside the military and unrealistic expectations of our war weary soldiers inside/outside the military?
    I don’t know what the right thing is…like so many things now…I watch and just feel…torn….so torn…

    • jojo613

      Don’t you think there are other ways to show appreciation other than a beer commercial? I think it’s pathetic that this company is the only really showing appreciation to our troops… I wish that the military and veterans organizations could have come up with the $4 million to buy 30 seconds and show the military true appreciation…

      • sabrinacking

        I hear ya. And I am not going to argue your point. What I will say is, just now, my family is appreciating the patriotic sentiment. We’re not naïve enough to have smoke blown up our arse every day all day…but some days…smoke signals are your best friend. They get you through. I know lately politically its been easy to feel devalued, used/abused…but everywhere we go, people walk up to us and thank us for our service. BOTH of us. We just went to lunch at a Wendys and its the duty day so my husband is in full ACU splendor. Three separate couples came up to us. Two young and one old. So I don’t think the overwhelming feeling of the civilian population is “eh, whatever”. I still choose to believe people do respect and cherish this as a noble calling. Maybe that’s just what I need to believe right now, or maybe its true…my jury is still out. But right now today, I still look around at these small towns we live in and see people we are willing to live this life, so that they can live theirs, NEVER understanding what this means. Its sort of the point of selfless service.

        • Amy_Bushatz

          I think you just said exactly what I was trying to say — right now, I like it. :-)

  • Tara

    I liked it. I got misty eyed. Then my husband broke the silence to ask, “I wonder what it would be like if everyone else actually cared about us the way this commercial makes it seem?” I realized, yes…now all the civilians think that the military is appreciated, celebrated, and taken care of….and they can sit back and do nothing. Its easy to say “we love America! We love our military!” when its convenient, but when the push comes to shove, I think we as a country could do a heck of a lot better. So I’m on the fence with this one!

  • Lisa

    America is the most patriotic country on Earth!!! Oh my god you have no idea until you live somewhere else. Our allies have fought and died with us through this long decade and believe me, their countries don’t have welcome home porn, recognition on tv, parades, tshirts, banners– nothing. I cannot believe there are mil spouses who do not appreciate this.

    • Camille

      I think the point is that we don’t want the lip service. We’d like people to support us where it actually matters… Support government and corporate policies that benefit servicemembers, vets, and their families, for instance. That’s how I feel, anyway.

      • jojo613

        I would like to know where the good LT in about 10 years.

    • guest

      Since you clearly don’t understand why exploitation can be offensive, why not educate yourself: http://leftface.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/exploita

      • Lisa

        Budweiser has given 11 million dollars to the USO and mil organizations, and that wasn’t just a Bud commercial– it was equally VFW commercial. It was teamwork between Bud and the VFW. I can’t name another company that has given one million to benefit military, let alone 11 million. So, it’s not exploitation by definition. I don’t see it as exploration at all. I loved it, and my husband has been in special forces since 1999, 7 tours in the Middle East , and he was shot this last one too– so I am most def a mil spouse.