You don’t have to wait until next weekend for Super Bowl commercials: On Friday (Jan. 26), Budweiser unveiled one of its Super Bowl LII spots, a powerful ad soundtracked by Skylar Grey covering the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me.”
The minute-long commercial — which shows Bud employees switching gears to produce cans of clean drinking water instead of beer — highlights Anheuser-Busch’s partnership with the American Red Cross, which has provided more than 79 million cans of water to disaster-relief efforts over the past 30 years, and more than 3 million cans last year alone, following American disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and California.
“The song was the perfect choice for Anheuser-Busch because it brings to life how they really do stand by communities in times of need after natural disasters,” the singer/songwriter tells Billboard via email about covering “Stand By Me” for the commercial. And the ad will continue to give back: 25 percent of the proceeds from Grey’s cover will go to the Red Cross.
Watch the commercial below:
Below, see our chat with Grey about her involvement with Budweiser, her memories of Super Bowls past and what it’s like to have her music in front of such a massive audience.
How did you get involved in the Budweiser commercial?
This is my second time working with Budweiser, actually. They used my version of “Coming Home” for a Super Bowl commercial a few years ago, which celebrated a soldier returning home from war. I had a great experience working with them, so this year when they came to me asking if I’d be interested in recording a cover of “Stand By Me” for another powerful spot, I was excited to get involved.
Was “Stand By Me” a song you already had a personal connection to before doing the cover?
The Ben E. King version of “Stand By Me” is a total classic. When I recorded my version, I wanted to go in a more stripped-down, acoustic direction, as that’s the sound I’m going for with my next album I’m currently working on. I’m taking it back to my roots and the music I grew up on, like Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell. Also, I wanted it to be an emotional performance to really emphasize the message being portrayed in the Budweiser spot. The song was the perfect choice for Anheuser-Busch because it brings to life how they really do stand by communities in times of need after natural disasters.
A portion of the proceeds of your “Stand By Me” single will be donated to the American Red Cross. With last year being an especially devastating year for natural disasters, what does it mean to you to be able to help like this?
This is one of the main reasons I was so eager to collaborate with Anheuser-Bush on this commercial. I feel grateful to be able to take part in such a good cause on such a large scale. Also, I wanted there to be a way my fans could help as well, so Interscope is donating 25 percent of the proceeds from domestic digital downloads and streams of my version of “Stand By Me” directly to the American Red Cross to provide additional support for natural disasters.
Super Bowl is the most-watched television event of the year, so these commercials are seen by extraordinary amounts of people. Did you notice a big response back in 2014 because of the huge audience?
Having a song in a Super Bowl commercial is such a great opportunity to reach a large audience. I made quite a few new fans when we did the “Coming Home” spot, and I’m excited to see what happens this time.
Do you have any memories of Super Bowl growing up?
I grew up in Wisconsin, so my family are big Packers fans. We always watched the Super Bowl, but it was especially fun when we were rooting for our teams — and who doesn’t love the Super Bowl commercials?
You’re performing at a Super Bowl event in Minneapolis as well.
I’m excited to check it out. I’ve heard it’s a blast. I’ve never played a show outside in single-digit temperatures, so that should be interesting!