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Cutwater Spirits debuts its first ever Super Bowl ad

Ted Belton
(Cutwater Spirits’ ‘Cut Out’ campaign stars actress Emily Hampshire from ‘Schitt’s Creek’. )

In the advertising world, there is no higher honor than a Super Bowl ad. And this Sunday, as San Diegans gather to watch the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they may just spot a familiar brand on TV: locally-based Cutwater Spirits will unveil its first-ever commercial during the Super Bowl.

For Cutwater Spirits’ co-founder and Master Distiller Yuseff Cherney , the Super Bowl ad is surreal.

“It’s definitely pretty strange,” Cherney said during a phone interview. “Coming from a brewing background, we out of anybody realize the significance of having a Super Bowl ad. And to be able to do it with a relatively newly branded company … and to have this kind of level, I’m really looking forward to the phone calls and texts from friends going like, ‘What is going on? I just saw your stuff on the Super Bowl!’”

The 30-second commercial focuses on Cutwater’s “Cut Out” campaign, which encourages Cutwater fans to get out and enjoy themselves —even if the only place they can go is their own backyard. The campaign includes the Super Bowl commercial, a social media campaign starring “Schitt’s Creek” star Emily Hampshire (she played Stevie Budd on the beloved TV series) and a sweepstakes offering an “Ultimate Backyard Giveaway.”

“What we are trying to do is a call to arms for people who have been going through this whole year at home, so attached to their digital devices, and try to remind them that there is a time where you can leave that behind and get out and enjoy yourself, Cherney said. “I know that pretty much everybody, myself included, that works from home finds it very hard to disconnect. I’m getting emails and phone calls and texts from work at every hour of the day. So I think it’s a little bit of a response to that, reminding people that it’s okay to set the phone down.”

Cutwater Spirits began as an offshoot of Ballast Point Brewing, but rebranded after Constellation Brands acquired Ballast Point. In 2017, Cutwater opened a 50,000-square-foot distillery and restaurant in Miramar. Cutwater offerings include bottled spirits (including whiskey, tequila, vodka, gin and rum) and canned cocktails (like the Tequila Margarita, Vodka Mule, Rum and Cola, Gin and Tonic and more). Cutwater was purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 2019.

And while Anheuser-Busch is known for its splashy Budweiser Super Bowl ads, this year is different. For the first time in 37 years, there will be no Budweiser Super Bowl ad (the brand will still run ads for other entities, including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Cutwater Spirits and more). Instead, Anheuser-Busch will donate the money it would have spent on a Budweiser commercial to the Ad Council in order to help raise awareness for the benefits of the coronavirus vaccine.

The pandemic was certainly what inspired Cutwater’s “Cut Out” campaign.

“Where are people celebrating right now?” Cherney asked. “And it’s literally, well, we go to our backyard. So we’re just trying to make that experience a little more elevated.”

And when looking for the right spokesperson for the campaign, Cherney says Hampshire, a self-proclaimed “long-time cut out enthusiast,” was a lock.

“If you know anything about myself and Earl (Kight), who is my partner in the business, we’re fairly sarcastic folk and have what some might even term as abrasive personalities, although I try to reign it in,” he said with a laugh. “(Hampshire) is somebody who exemplifies that. She’s very forthcoming with an opinion and very direct, and it’s true to brand.”

The way Hampshire explains the idea is (as stated in a press release): “Cutting out is not self-care. It’s caring enough about yourself to not feel guilty about all the self-care exercise and meditating you’re not doing. Cutting out is self-care without all those hashtag goals. Listen, most of the time, I don’t even know what day it is. But I’m okay with that, because cutting out doesn’t judge you for mixing weekends with weekdays. Cutting out is living in the moment, like watching other people hike while cracking open a canned White Russian that tastes like dessert. You’re welcome.”

Getting a high-profile commercial and a celebrity spokesperson happened in a relatively short time period for a young brand like Cutwater. But it’s a success that Cherney says he and Kight always envisioned and believed.

“From [seeing cans in] supermarkets and seeing cans in far-reaching destinations, that’s what gets me excited, and I know Earl as well. We always talked about being a global brand. Four years ago, we would say that to people and they would look at us like we were nuts, and now we’ve got a Super Bowl ad, so in your face,” he said with a laugh.

As for where Cherney will be watching the game — and his commercial — this Sunday?

“Oddly enough, at home. Imagine that,” he said. “I have a large family, we have four children and there are relatives that live close by, so I’m sure it’s going to be what we call the bubble watching the big game.”

For more information on Cutwater Spirits’ “Cut Out” campaign or to enter the sweepstakes, visit cutwaterspirits.com.


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