Game of Thrones is so brutal, it’s even costing beloved Bud Light actors their lives.
During the Super Bowl, a seemingly light-hearted Bud Light commercial featuring the “Dilly Dilly” medieval theme that caught steam during last year’s game quickly morphed into a gruesome ad for HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, which premieres its final season on April 14.
It’s hard for companies to surprise Super Bowl viewers these days, especially since most of the ads are released in the weeks leading up to the game. But this spot – featuring Game of Thrones villain Gregor Clegane (know as The Mountain) crushing the head of the Bud Knight before a dragon incinerates the crowd – wasn’t on anyone’s radar ahead of its debut.
“This Game of Thrones / Bud Light mashup was a complete and wonderful surprise,” AdWeek wrote in response to the spot.
The Wall Street Journal did get some of the backstory on the ad, including the fact that HBO considered partnering with Coca-Cola with a script that would have involved turning the company’s iconic polar bear into a “white walker.”
HBO’s marketing chief Chris Spadaccini told the Journal he made one thing clear to Anheuser-Busch: “The Bud Knight had to die.” But the company did push back on the amount of violence the ad includes, and even toned down the sound of the Bud Knight’s skull being crushed.
“[Dilly Dilly] is a really sanitized version of the ‘Game of Thrones’ world,” Andrew Fergusson, group creative director at HBO’s ad agency, Droga5, told the Journal. “We just had to add the grit.”
HBO tapped David Nutter, who directed several Game of Thrones episodes – including the “Red Wedding” scene – to handle the high-profile spot.
The ad was set up by an earlier Bud Light commercial that mocked competitors Coors Light and Miller Light for using corn syrup in their brewing process.
Obviously, folks on Twitter had some thoughts.