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Bizarre Media Blitz

Among the Budweiser, Doritos and Coca-Cola ads that ran during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 was an ad campaign from Miller High Life, “The Little Guys on the Big Day,” which featured four small business owners. One of those businesses was Phoenix-based guitar store Bizarre Guitar, owned by Bob Turner.

“Last November, I got a call from a girl who said she was from Miller High Life and asked me if I wanted to be in a Super Bowl commercial,” Turner said. “I thought it was a joke. I thought she was trying to steal my identity.”

It was no joke. The next day, a video camera arrived at Turner’s store, and he was instructed to create a video highlighting his shop. So, dressed in his typical attire, shorts and a cutoff T-shirt, Turner filmed his store from the inside out.

“I told them, ‘I don’t have carpeting or track lighting, but I have 1,500 of the best guitars on the planet,’” Turner said. “They told me they liked it because it looked like I didn’t care. I didn’t dress up or read off a script. What you see is what you get, and I wasn’t going to change for anyone.”

As it turned out, Turner’s “realness” is what helped him land the commercial spot. According to The Arizona Republic, Miller High Life found out about Bizarre Guitar online, and it grabbed the marketing team’s interest.

“He came across as a guy who started his own business and worked his way up,” Joe Abegg, national brand manager for Miller High Life, told The Arizona Republic. “It was all about his non-pretentious, no-BS attitude, and that fits our brand values.”

Turner said he was one of 10,000 small businesses considered. “We didn’t enter a contest or anything like that,” Turner said of his store and the other featured businesses. “We all thought it was fake. We all thought the same thing. None of us ever found out how we got picked. It was like shooting an arrow into the earth, and it hit me.”

Ten Times the Traffic & Calls
And that magical arrow paid off. The day after the Super Bowl commercial aired, his store was flooded with calls from customers, the media and fellow shop owners.

“Normally, when I get in, we will have one message that will be like a hang-up or something,” Turner said. “We came in the next day [after the SuperBowl] to 28 messages.”

Even Bizarre’s Web site shut down due to an overflow of traffic. And the week after the commercial, the store garnered 10 times the traffic and phone calls as usual, according to Turner.

“It sure has increased my business,” Turner said. “I have seen an increase in sales. It hasn’t been through the roof, but it’s been an increase. A bad economy is a bad economy. Whether people want to spend money or not, if you don’t have it, you are going to buy your kids food first. You’re not going to buy a Les Paul or a Strat. But we have had 10 times the notoriety from across the country.

“It’s amazing how the media can affect someone and their business. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store, and it took me three hours to buy milk.”

Turner said he hopes that his new found celebrity will continue to benefit his store. “I hope this continues. I hope some money comes back [to the economy] before this runs out.” MI