The Super Bowl XLVIII set a new television record of racking in 111.5 millions viewers. At the same time, millions of viewers were most likely in tears after viewing the heart-warming Super Bowl commercials. Just when "Puppy Love" had viewers reeling, Budweiser's "A Hero's Welcome" floored the families with loved ones serving in uniform and it stood out as one of the best commercials of the night.
The one-minute commercial shows a soldier's homecoming from Afghanistan on January 8 to his home in central Florida. Lt. Chuck Nadd was welcomed by girlfriend Shannon Cantwell with open arms and a hidden camera ready to capture the experience of a lifetime. Originally told that Lt. Nadd would give a speech in his hometown for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group, the 24-year-old helicopter pilot believed his return home was temporarily.
Lt. Nadd was then greeted by the entire town with cheers. With signs, confetti, horses and fire trucks, Lt. Nadd was driven around downtown Winter Park before having an emotional reunion with his mother. The commercial showcased the message that "every soldier deserves a hero's welcome."
The video has been seen over 8 million times on YouTube since its release and is being claimed as one of the best commercials from Sunday. Lt. Nadd felt that something was going on, but did not suspect that the cameras were for a Super Bowl commercial. He was instructed that his speech at the VFW was going to be captured for a documentary.
In an interview with Fox News after the Super Bowl, Lt. Nadd and girlfriend Shannon sat down to discuss the commercial. Cantwell entered a contest that the VFW was conducting to honor one soldier coming home prior to Thanksgiving. She receieved the news that Lt. Nadd was chosen as the winner before Christmas Day. Lt. Nadd was even more surprised when he found out the footage was actually a commercial for Sunday's Super Bowl. When the pair arrived to New York on Friday for the game, he was informed it would be broadcast Sunday to millions of viewers.
The surprise that build on layer after layer left Lt. Nadd stunned. "It was more than just a task for the VFW," he laughed. "I was shocked."
The commercial originally planned to be 30-seconds, but was then moved to a full-minute.
With the response that the video has been garnering, Lt. Nadd and Cantwell are hoping that these type of welcoming surprises continue unto other families who have loved ones overseas. "It has been such a blessing," said Cantwell. "We do hope it continues for other soldiers and their families."
Lt. Nadd is grateful but humbled by the response and support he has received from the commercial. "So many folks deserve this so much more than me," said Lt. Nadd. "I really hope that the message that gets out is that for all the people who have been on two, three or more combat deployments, you know folks who have come back injured or not come back at all, those are the real heroes."