Residents of Crested Butte, Colo., are responding in mixed ways to Anheuser-Busch’s plan to paint the town blue and remake it as a fantasy Bud Light theme town in two weeks.
Plans to invite up to 1,000 out-of-town partiers to this town of 1,500 people have been progressing in secret, according to several media reports, as part of the company’s “Are You Up For Whatever?” advertising campaign for Bud Light.
The idea is to transform the picturesque village into the fictional town of “Whatever,” including public amenities painted Bud Light blue, Bud Light pouring from pop-up bars on the fenced-off main drag and live music and entertainers — including blue-painted elephants — all but taking over the town, according to the Denver Post. The elaborate set-up is for the sake of filming a TV commercial.
In return, Anheuser-Busch will pay Crested Butte $250,000. Public sentiment seems divided between those who think it will be a fun and easy way to cash a check and those who are offended that the town would sell itself out to a crass and disruptive advertising campaign.
The event would take place Sept. 5-7. Organizers say it was kept secret to prevent hordes of people from descending on the town to partake in the festivities.
David Ochs, director of Crested Butte’s Chamber of Commerce, told Denver’s Fox 31 that an informal poll by his office showed about 90 percent support renting the town to a beer company for the weekend.
But the Post reported that at least 50 of those who spoke at a three-hour-plus town meeting Monday night — the first time the event has had a public hearing — were outraged by the idea.
“I do not understand how this got this far down the road in absolute secrecy,” the paper quotes former Sen. Tim Wirth, a Crested Butte resident, as saying. The Post reported that town staff has been working on the event behind closed doors since spring.
Others showed up to the meeting in costumes to illustrate their opinions that the town is offering to become a corporate theme park for three days.
Media outlets have also noted the secrecy could be to preserve the ad campaign’s central theme of filming unsuspecting beer drinkers as they’re whisked along on surprise adventures, often featuring celebrities in oddball situations. During the last Super Bowl, a Bud Light “Whatever” ad followed a typical bro on an odyssey that involved ping-pong with Arnold Schwarzenegger and an encounter with actor Don Cheadle and a llama.
According to the Post, Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep told angry residents on Monday that the event wasn’t yet a done deal, despite the months of planning conducted in secrecy.
The response from many seems to echo the theme of the event: Whatever.
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