Colt 45 is bringing back 1980s-era pitchman Billy Dee Williams in a new campaign that harkens back to his memorable and controversial line that the malt liquor "works every time."
The brand, which is owned by Pabst Brewing Co., teased the campaign in a video released this week. The spot includes footage of vintage Colt 45 ads along with new shots of the actor pouring himself a glass of the beer. It ends with the "it works every time" tagline that Mr. Williams made famous.
The redo is a risky move considering that that line has been interpreted by critics as suggesting that the brew could be served to women by men and act as a sort of aphrodisiac. In a 1986 review of the original campaign, then-Ad Age ad critic Bob Garfield reviewed a spot that showed Mr. Williams stating "and now she's pouring a Colt 45. And we all know what that means."
The approach appeals to the "glandular, sexist, basest common denominator" and is "shameful," Mr. Garfield wrote. "I don't care if Mr. Williams is wearing a tuxedo; in these spots he's a pig."
Pabst Brewing Co. representatives did not return emails for comment. USA Today reported that the video teases a new campaign that will include TV, print and online marketing starring Mr. Williams. Colt 45 brought the actor back because he "played a major role in the success of Colt 45," Pabst Chief Marketing Officer Dan McHugh said in a statement quoted by USA Today.
This story also appears on Adage.com.