February 5, 2018 by Courtney Crowder
More than 300 miles away from Audubon, Iowa, the Super Bowl is raging in Minneapolis.
But the residents of that small Iowa town just aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, according to a new commercial aired during Sunday’s big game.
After all, Audubon has had their own Super Bull since 1964.
Albert the Bull, an icon among roadside attractions, is quite literally a giant concrete bull. Weighing in at 45 tons and 30 feet tall, the bull was built and is maintained entirely by local volunteers.
Produced by Cenex, Audubon’s tongue-in-cheek 30-second commercial and the two 15-second follow-ups show Audubon as unimpressed by the “Super Bowl” because they have a “Super Bull.” (Say both words fast and you'll get why this works.)
Leaning into the play on words, the commercial begins with an average Joe-type at a Cenex gas station saying, "Yeah, I’ve heard about the big game up North, but here we have a super bull everyday."
A few other gas station customers further describe the bull before the camera pans to reveal the giant statue. A party breaks out in front of Albert with a little girl selling Super Bull knick-knacks and town members cheering.
The commercial ends with an announcement that the Bull is being “sponsored” by Cenex as a giant banner unfurls across the bull’s back.
The Iowa-centric commercial isn’t the first Cenex has aired during the Super Bowl, but it is the only one the company has produced entirely for the big game, said Bryan Brignac, Cenex's energy marketing and communications director.
An arm of Minnesota-based CHS, the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, Cenex is best-known for its convenience stores, but is equally acclaimed in the agriculture world for its diesel fuel, lubricant and propane.
Attempting to play off the company's tagline, “Powered Locally,” and their dedication to “support communities and highlight the people and traditions that continue to make them great places to live,” Cenex's creative team first looked at which localities across the Midwest region they have stores in, Brignac said.
They decided they wanted to base a commercial in one of those places no matter what. Once they figured out which community they wanted to feature, they would ferret out an exact concept, he said.
When the creative team came across Audubon and Albert the Bull, the “Super Bowl/Super Bull” idea sort of fell into their lap, Brignac said.
“The NFL is notorious for being protective of their trademarks, especially the Super Bowl,” Brignac said. “We are not saying Super Bowl, but instead talking about a very specific Super Bull. That joke becomes apparent from the first minutes of the commercial.”
After the concept came to them, the Cenex team had to reach out to Audubon. And they did that exactly how you would think, Brignac said with a laugh.
“We called the development council and we just sort of pitched them the idea over the phone,” Brignac said. “Then we came in and made a presentation to the city council and everyone we met was overwhelmingly supportive.”
The company paid for Albert to get a new coat of paint (more than 65 gallons, to be exact), Brignac said, and invited the community to be part of the final scene.
“Cenex has a deep-rooted history of serving rural America and the people who make their towns great places to live," Brignac said. "You know, communities where everyone is neighborly and hard-working. Those are the same principles that we believe our brand embodies."
Filming for the commercial took place in November, Brignac said, before any snow could fall. They filmed for an entire week, including three extra days to film a documentary about the bull.
The documentary sprung from the warmth the production team received in Audubon, Brignac said. Once they saw how dedicated the townsfolk were to their statue, they wanted to figure out a way to honor the "rich" story of Audubon and Albert the Bull, he said.
"We just wanted people to know that Audubon is a real place and Albert the Bull is a real local legend," Brignac said. Audubon is "so authentic to the heartland of America that we really wanted to give the story its due diligence."
Brignac and the Cenex team went back to Audubon last month to premiere the commercials and their documentary at a local chamber event. When the lights came up after the showing, Brignac remembered the 300 gathered people laughing, crying and just so excited that their town was getting this kind of attention.
"It was heartwarming to see how proud the town was," he said. "And to play a small part in that, myself and Cenex, it was just really emotional. I was beyond honored to bring attention like this to a community like Audubon."
Courtesy of Courtney Crowder, the Des Moines Register 2/4/18.