Report: Army had concerns about use of soldier in Super Bowl ad
By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times | Published: March 24, 2014
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — A new report found that Army officials expressed concerns about the appearance of a soldier from post in a Super Bowl advertisement for Budweiser, clearing it only days before it aired.
The advertisement depicted 10th Combat Aviation Brigade soldier 1st Lt. Chuck Nadd and his girlfriend, Shannon Cantwell, being welcomed back from his deployment in Afghanistan with a surprise parade in his hometown of Winter Park, Fla., as he rode in on a carriage pulled by the company's trademark Clydesdale horses.
Army emails about the development of the advertisement were first reported by Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday.
The magazine reported that the ad could have violated military regulations barring actual or implied endorsement of non-federal entities, as well as Army anti-alcohol policies. Among the remedies the service considered for the ad was a cease-and-desist order to Budweiser's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, after Nadd told commanders he had done an on-camera interview in uniform, only later learning the footage would be used in the advertisement for the company.
The collected emails show multiple Army officials expressing concern about the beer company's motives through months of the development of the commercial. The magazine said Budweiser first requested Army assistance for an ad to run on Dec. 10, "National Lager Day," but that request was denied. The search for a soldier to star in the Super Bowl ad, who turned out to be Nadd, started in November with a request from a national Veterans of Foreign Wars official for a documentary project.
The Associated Press reported that before the surprise parade, Nadd was told by his battalion leader that he would leave Afghanistan about a week earlier than expected, to complete a "public affairs assignment" speech to a VFW group in his hometown. He also was told that a camera crew would follow him for a "documentary" about returning soldiers.
An Army spokesman told the magazine the service provided no support to the beer company's commercial, but provided support to Nadd after it was produced. However, the company responded that it had Army support while it was being produced.
Despite the internal concerns about the advertisement, the office of Defense Secretary Charles Hagel and the Army's top public affairs officer, Brig. Gen. Gary Volesky, approved the advertisement Jan. 30, only days before the Super Bowl game Feb. 2.