Budweiser Honors Soldier with Tear-Jerking Tribute, and a Veteran Ad Too Controversial to Air During the Super Bowl

A Budweiser Super Bowl commercial and a would-be, but rejected, Super Bowl advertisement, both starring American soldiers, were very much at odds with each other.

The first, 60-second spot, dubbed “A Hero’s Welcome,” showed Lieutenant Chuck Nadd, 24, and his emotional return from Afghanistan. “On January 8, 2014, Budweiser and the town of Winter Park gave Lt. Chuck Nadd a hero’s welcome. This is the true behind-the-scenes story of the surprise homecoming that became a Super Bowl commercial. It’s also a thank you to all of our veterans and active duty troops. We #Salute you,” Budweiser tweeted.

During the tear-jerking ad, Nadd and his girlfriend, Shannon Cantwell, lead a parade on a carriage pulled by the company’s iconic Clydesdales. Confetti gently falls on the couple while people in the crowd hold up signs welcoming Nadd home. Veterans salute and wave. (The entire celebration begins with a veteran placing his hand on Nadd’s shoulder, telling him, “Welcome home, Chuck. This is all for you.”) The commercial ends shortly after Nadd shares an emotional embrace with his mother, Agnes.

The army operations officer and Black Hawk pilot had no idea what kind of reception he would receive. “Before he flew back to Florida, his commanding officer told him that he was chosen to be featured in a documentary about soldiers, and that he would speak at an event for the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter in his hometown of Winter Park,” Business Insider reports. Budweiser originally slated just 30 seconds for the advertisement, later extending it to a full minute. “There was just so much good footage, we couldn’t resist expanding the spot to include more of Lt. Nadd’s homecoming,” Budweiser Vice President Brian Perkins told The Orlando Sentinel.

The second, banned advertisement took another angle altogether. The banned commercial starrs a Marine reservist; the ad depicts a veteran with his wife and newborn child, appearing alongside a bold, pro-gun voice over. “It’s been a long road getting here, and a lot has changed since I got back. I am responsible for their protection, and no one has the right to tell me how to defend them,” the veteran states, on behalf of Daniel Defense, a firearm manufacturer.

Although the video has gone viral on YouTube, the commercial did not air during the Super Bowl. A Fox station wrote, “Unfortunately we cannot accept your commercial spots in Football/Super Bowl due to the rules the NFL itself has set into place for your companies [sic] category.”

Jordan Hunter, Daniel Defense’s Director of Marketing, defends the ad, stating that it did not, in fact, violate NFL guidelines. Hunter adds that the cited stipulations — including the prohibition of “firearms, ammunition or other weapons; however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or other weapons” — do not apply. Hunter argues that Daniel Defense sells T-shirts and outdoor equipment and never explicitly mentions guns or ammunition in the banned commercial. ABC News reporters, along with many others, speculated that the ad was not appropriate in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the subsequent school, theater, and mall shootings.

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