Why Helen Mirren's Budweiser PSA wasn't really a PSA

Jul 12, 2019


Welcome to the Law Office of Stanley E. Robison, Jr, your trusted source for legal expertise in matters related to Law and Government. In this article, we delve into the controversial Budweiser PSA featuring Helen Mirren, to provide you with insights on why it may not align with the traditional notion of a public service announcement (PSA).

The Budweiser PSA

In recent years, Helen Mirren's Budweiser commercial gained significant attention for its powerful messaging about drunk driving and responsible alcohol consumption. However, despite its impactful delivery and compelling narrative, some argue that it isn't a genuine PSA.

The purpose of a PSA

A public service announcement (PSA) typically aims to raise awareness, promote safety, or educate the public on important issues that affect our society. These announcements are often created by non-profit organizations or government agencies with no intention of yielding a profit. They serve to make a positive impact on communities and inspire action.

The Budweiser commercial as an advertising campaign

While the Budweiser commercial featuring Helen Mirren undeniably addresses an essential message, it can be argued that it primarily functions as an advertising campaign for Budweiser's brand. The commercial, although well-intentioned, still serves Budweiser's marketing objectives by associating their brand with responsible drinking.

Discussion on the classification

The debate lies in whether the Budweiser commercial should be classified as a true PSA or merely an advertisement disguised as one. This distinction is critical as a genuine PSA prioritizes the public's best interest, driven solely by promoting the welfare of our communities.

Key factors supporting it as a true PSA

On one hand, proponents argue that despite the underlying brand association, the commercial successfully encourages responsible alcohol consumption and explicitly condemns drunk driving, ultimately serving the public's well-being.

  • The central message: The central message of the commercial focuses on discouraging drunk driving, a critical issue affecting public safety.
  • Powerful delivery: Helen Mirren delivers a strong, heartfelt performance which resonates with the viewers, potentially increasing awareness.
  • Behavioral change: The commercial aims to change behavior by promoting responsible drinking habits, which aligns with PSA objectives.

The blurred lines of advertisements and PSAs

On the other hand, critics argue that the commercial blurs the lines between advertising and PSAs, potentially diluting the effectiveness of genuine announcements. Some key factors supporting this viewpoint include:

  • Brand association: Although the message promotes responsible drinking, the presence of Budweiser's brand and logo throughout the commercial may overshadow the genuine intent behind a traditional PSA.
  • Marketing objectives: Budweiser is ultimately a commercial enterprise aiming to sell its products. The use of a celebrity like Helen Mirren helps generate brand recognition and positive associations, further separating it from a typical non-profit PSA.
  • Advertising regulations: Traditional PSAs are not subject to the same advertising regulations as commercial entities, such as restrictions on claims and endorsements. The Budweiser commercial falls under advertising guidelines and may benefit from positive brand perception.

The Importance of Genuine PSAs

While the Budweiser commercial serves a purpose by spreading a vital message about responsible drinking, it is crucial to differentiate it from authentic PSAs. Genuine PSAs are non-profit-driven, community-oriented initiatives that prioritize public safety and societal welfare.

The potential impact of Budweiser's approach

By utilizing advertising tactics in the guise of a PSA, Budweiser's commercial promotes responsible drinking to a broader audience. It raises awareness and encourages dialogue on an important issue. However, evaluating its effectiveness as a true PSA deserves consideration.


In conclusion, while Helen Mirren's Budweiser commercial possesses compelling messaging about responsible drinking and drunk driving prevention, it challenges the traditional understanding of public service announcements. As your trusted law office specializing in Law and Government - Legal matters, we encourage critical thinking and dialogue on these topics.

At the Law Office of Stanley E. Robison, Jr, we are dedicated to upholding the principles of public service and working towards the betterment of our society. Contact us today for all your legal needs in the realm of Law and Government.