The Freddies island of misfit commercials

By Natalie Sit

Beer and commercials make a good combination at the Eddies, Big Rock Brewery’s annual creative beer ad festival–for those who win. For those whose Ed Woodian creation never saw the light of day, the second annual Freddies Reject Festival could be for you.

“It’s not a parody but poking fun at ourselves,” explains co-organizer and aspiring filmmaker Sean Bowie of the snubbed Eddies commercial festival. “It’s more a celebration of people’s work and ideas and collective futility. There’s beauty in people who have no business making films, but have something to say and express.”

Bowie, whose failed Eddies entry featured a winter botchi ball tournament to the death where the winners drank Big Rock, is looking for commercials with “heart and no skill.” He fondly recalls a couple of commercials at last year’s Freddies he still doesn’t understand.

“There was one with naked girls and it was out of focus,” laughs Bowie. “And there was a dirty clown flicking his tongue out. And the slogan read ‘Smells like beer, tastes like pussy.’”

The festival will also award the amateur auteurs with prizes like the Most Offensive, the Yawn Award, the What the Hell Were You Thinking Award and the Worst Commercial of the Year. Winners will be presented with trophies, carefully gathered from secondhand stores.

The inspiration for the Freddies came from co-organizer Peter Strandrumpel’s musings about the commercials that never made it to the Eddies. From that, in one week the first Freddies Reject Festival was quickly organized with 20 entries and 75 people eventually attending the event. According to Bowie, working with Strandrumpel and co-organizer Mike Johnson, there is a lot of interest in the festival. Even Big Rock has been helpful in their own way.

“We asked them to sponsor us and they gracefully declined,” an amused Bowie recalls. “They didn’t squash us so they helped that way. Technically, [the commercials] are the property of Big Rock. But they’re going to sit in a room and collect dust.”

If this year’s Freddies proves successful, Bowie sees a counterculture direction for the festival in its future.

“We’ll pick a corporate target, say Nike, and we want Nike commercials done in an Adbuster way,” says Bowie. “But right now it’s rooted in rejected Eddies.”

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