Jack McDonough was on the phone the next morning confronting me about shooting some Heilemann Beer commercials with Hal Riney. The idea behind the spot was a race between the Clydesdales and Heilemann Percherons, a Riney created fiction. Heilemann had purchase Henry’s to Riney’s chagrin and maybe heartbreak. Riney had nurtured the brand from infancy and its advertising had reached legendary status.
Anyway, McDonough asked me how I could do such a thing since I had such a great relationship with AB. I told him it was Riney and he understood, but he also asked how we could avoid this stuff in the future.
Give Riney an assignment.
You have a bunch of money you always throw around to various agencies for various purposes. Throw some Riney’s way.
He did and Riney had his foot in the AB door. Big time!
Riney hired David Lamb of Bud Light fame to run the office he opened in Chicago to service AB. Things never worked out. Hal couldn’t deal with the corporate structure of AB. A story I once heard is that in a Michelob meeting, Hal suggested that they redesign the label. He didn’t make friends with the brand manager over that one. He also treated the brilliant and experienced David Lamb like a minion, not allowing him to speak in meetings and never presenting David’s work.
Hal called me late one night describing a spot he wanted to present on his Michelob pitch. It was really a Bud spot. I think Hal expected some epiphany in the meeting about that but it never happened. Of course, I didn’t do Hal any favors when I did the Michelob spot he hated but won the account for Needham.
In looking back at Hal’s successes vs this failure, he was always able to get to the guy at the top, at Blitz Weinhardt and Ernest Gallo. He couldn’t get there at AB and that is kinda sad as Hal’s sentiments were in line with AB’s (at that time).
Now, sadly, they are both gone, Hal to heaven and AB to Hell (Belgium).