Rocky Mountain town becomes beer commercial set

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. (AP) — Up for whatever? For some in the tiny and tony Colorado resort town of Crested Butte, that would be a no.

They aren't too thrilled with a virtual takeover by Anheuser-Busch this weekend to film an over-the-top commercial for Bud Light beer and its "Up for Whatever" ad campaign.

Some didn't take too kindly to the secretive event, arranged between Anheuser-Busch and town leaders. Others embraced it.

The beer giant agreed to pay $500,000 to Crested Butte to paint several blocks of a central street blue. Dozens of workers installed a sand volleyball court, a multistory cowboy boot statue, a gorilla and a director's chair that comfortably seats six people. Some 1,000 revelers were to be flown in for the event — and outsiders were banned for the duration.

And for two days, Crested Butte was becoming Whatever, USA. All painted in "Bud Light Blue."

"It's been a very divisive thing in town, for sure," said Shaun Horne, owner of the Oh-be-Joyful Gallery. "Some people are not into putting a corporate label on the town."

Further upsetting some: The whole plan was secret until about two weeks ago. Business owners worried about losing customers over the weekend. And their town's character, even if for only two days.

Crested Butte, population 1,500, is more of a craft beer town, home to art galleries, artists and second-home owners. It can be reached by one paved highway or two dirt roads over mountain passes. There are no fast food restaurants or chain stores.

Anheuser-Busch scrambled to build support for "Whatever."

"There was a level of fear around the uncertainty of what we were trying to do, and we completely understand that," company spokesman Nick Kelly said. "We worked closely with the town, and we also worked closely with a lot of individuals on a one-to-one basis to make sure we can answer those questions and concerns."

The commercial is a sequel to a Bud Light "Up for Whatever" Super Bowl ad that featured Don Cheadle, Arnold Schwarzenegger and One Direction.

A steady stream of residents lined up Thursday to get a bracelet to join the party. Several noted that Crested Butte has hosted the Winter X Games and survived.

"It's a once in a lifetime thing. The community is everything you would want for a party town," said Christine Lyerly, a part-time resident.

And as for Bud Light Blue, "it's not an actual color like school bus yellow," Kelly joked.