It lit up the email lists of rec league hockey teams last week, and courted Canadian viewers with a rare Super Bowl commercial tailor-made for the big-game broadcast in this country. But Budweiser’s ad – which featured a surprise mob of “flash fans” filling the seats at a casual weeknight hockey game – is earning jeers from an actors’ union.
The more than 500 “background performers” were hired outside of a common labour agreement that applies to actors in TV commercials produced in Canada, The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) said in a statement issued Friday.
The president of ACTRA Toronto, Heather Allin, claimed in the statement that the commercial hired the actors who posed as fans “for much less than industry-standard pay” and did not properly compensate the hockey players for their speaking roles in the spot.
The dispute illustrates the public-relations peril of YouTube-inspired advertising spots, that use unsuspecting subjects, average people, and “flash mobs” of hundreds of individuals that might not be hired professional extras.
The commercial was created by Anomaly, a New York-based agency that is part of the MDC Partners network. The statement noted that the agency has created advertising for Budweiser in Canada that did adhere to union agreements, several times over the past year.