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Will Ferrell Gives the Ultimate Gift to Old Milwaukee

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From Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus embattled in that forever-unresolved “Tastes Great-Less Filling” debate to Jean Claude Van Damme likening an ice-cold Coors Light (TAP) can to his frozen, rock-solid pants, beer companies have paid a pretty penny for celebrities to peddle their products. So how much would an endorsement from one of the world’s most famous comedians set a brewer back?

How about nothing?

While Will Ferrell commands $20 million per movie project, he reportedly doesn’t want any money for associating his mug with that of a beer which is widely regarded as swill. What is likely one of the biggest boons to the beer maker in its entire 120-year history, Old Milwaukee has nabbed a completely pro-bono backing by Will Ferrell with Pabst Brewing Company, which owns the brand, paying Ferrell about as much as Budweiser (BUD) paid those frogs. In fact, it seems the A-list actor has voluntarily made himself the unofficial spokesman of the brand, going so far as to make commercials on his own dime. Why? Because he likes the lager-style beer that much.

At least that’s what Ferrell and Pabst want you to believe.

However, The A.V. Club’s Marah Eakin does suspect that the ads, conspicuously coinciding with a quirky image overhaul of Old Milwaukee's website and Facebook page, “might be a guerrilla marketing campaign engineered by Ferrell” for his Funny or Die video platform. Although his comedy website hasn’t yet featured the ads, it had established a partnership with Pabst as recently as last year.

Nevertheless, Ferrell’s spots are putting talking frogs, lady-killer dogs and all the Miller Lite All-Stars combined to shame. Airing on television, in just a handful of Iowa and Illinois markets, the three ads have already gone viral on YouTube (GOOG) and are expected to continue gaining steam.

When you watch them, you’ll see why. Employing his trademark absurd sensibility seen in his Gap (GPS) ads from the mid-2000s, the funny man, who played the beer-guzzling Frank the Tank in 2003’s Old School, improvises his way through a poem at a Davenport, Iowa landmark and goes cat fishing in the Mississippi River only to emerge with a “little piece of America” -- a can of Old Milwaukee.
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