FT STEWART, GA — Critics are hailing a new 60-second television advertisement from Steel Brewing Company set to air during the Super Bowl, which features the tear-jerking story of a soldier's return home from Afghanistan.
The commercial opens with the soldier stepping off a plane in the Atlanta airport. Other soldiers around him are met with wives, husbands, and families all crying and hugging each other.
After not seeing his parents who promised to pick him up, the single soldier turns his cellphone on to see a voicemail from his dad. He smiles and listens as his dad says, "Hey son, sorry we didn't tell you earlier but we're not going to be at the airport. We actually flew out to California to see your brother, he's been feeling homesick at college. Also, we didn't want to tell you while you were away but your dog died three months ago. Well, love you son, bye."
The next scene shows the soldier taking a taxi to his one-bedroom apartment. He opens the door to reveal a dark and dusty room, not touched in months. "Well, I'm home," the soldier says as he places his bags on the kitchen floor, then glancing towards the counter to see a stack of unpaid bills.
Next, he opens the refrigerator to reveal six 40 oz. Steel Reserve beers that he had purchased before his deployment.
He shotguns one beer, opens a second, then takes a seat in front of the television. Sipping from his beer, he opens the drawer on the coffee table revealing the remote and a .45 caliber pistol. He settles in, changing the channel to CSPAN, where politicians are seen talking about cutting veterans' benefits. He lights a cigarette and places the loaded pistol in his lap and sinks into the chair.
Taking a long drag off the cigarette, he stares blankly at the television. Finally, the camera draws back from the scene to reveal a superimposed Steel Reserve logo. Underneath the logo, the words "Welcome Home" are drawn in a soft and pleasing font.
"We just wanted to show that Steel Reserve supports our nation's soldiers, especially the lonely and depressed ones," said Angela Ackerman, a spokesperson for Steel Brewing Company.
While many have praised the ad, it has received mixed reviews from veteran's organizations and some civilians.
"While we are happy to have a company support soldiers, we think it would have been best if the ad would have been produced by Jim Beam," Steven Herbert, spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told Duffel Blog. "Maybe it's just the older generation of veterans, but that's what I went for when I got home from Vietnam in '72."
Cari Gordon, a civilian worker at Fort Stewart, praised the awareness that Steel Reserve has brought to single soldiers. "I think it's great how they show that a single soldier has just as much waiting for him at home as someone with a family!"