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New Guinness commercial makes you reach for a Kleenex—not a beer

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Nobody likes to admit it when a commercial really gets to them, but this time around, we have to give the marketers of Guinness some credit where it's due: You totally, emotionally blindsided us with this latest ad. 

As required in the contemporary soft-sell scenario, we don’t know, for a while, just what this commercial is about. All we know is that some dudes are playing a really intense game of wheelchair basketball. You can tell that something is being said about spirit and perseverance, but what? And which sports drink logo is about to appear on our screen?

Aha! You’ve already fallen for the ad’s first bait-and-switch. This is somehow about beer instead of Gatorade—the beer you and your buddies have after a great pick-up game. But the real twist is in the nature of their athletic competition, and when you figure out what’s really going on, well, you may get a little misty-eyed about the noble ideals of pure and generous friendship.

We won’t pretend that the final product push lands perfectly—it’s weird and difficult to frame your choice of beer like a moral decision—nevertheless, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual violent and/or oversexualized Super Bowl demographic dreck, to say nothing of Budweiser’s haze of phony nostalgia and Dos Equis’ quickly stagnating “Most Interesting Man in the World” concept.  

In some ways, it even approximates the subtle genius of the best beer campaign of all time. That would be Errol Morris’s series of Miller High Life ads, which delved deep into the nature of American masculinity and working-class alcoholism, all captured with a keen documentary filmmaker’s eye. Just try to induce a craving for beer equivalent to the one you experience while watching this:

Now if you’ll excuse us, there’s a six-pack in the fridge calling our name.   

Photo via Edward Heising/YouTube