Santa Paula: MVP in filming for Super Bowl Budweiser commercials

February 12, 2010
Santa Paula News

Sunday’s Budweiser ad filmed in Santa Paula drew the largest television viewing audience in history, beating out the longtime king of single episode watchers, the finale of “Mash”, and proving again that the hometown is the MVP - Most Valuable Place - for filming. Oh, and people enjoyed the Super Bowl too.

But it’s Santa Paula’s use as a backdrop that drew a CBS television crew to the city earlier this week for a follow-up on the ad that prominently featured the city’s historic downtown and two East Main Street eateries - Garman’s and Smokin’ Joes - for the Budweiser advertisement.

The premise of the commercial aired Sunday was a man rushes into a diner - Smokin’ Joe’s - and announces the bridge is out. Everyone shrugs until he adds that a Budweiser truck is stuck on the other side, and that’s when the fun begins.

Townspeople - it looks like everyone actually - frantically run down East Main Street to the washed out bridge and, seeing the truck on the other side of the ravine, spring to action, forming a human span that the truck gingerly drives across. Like all stories this one has a happy ending when grateful beer drinkers are shown hoisting their glasses, a scene shot inside Garman’s.

Sunday’s ad was not the first time Santa Paula - long a popular locale for film, television and commercial shoots - was featured in a Super Bowl ad: in fact, the city and surrounding areas have been used a whopping four times for ads that appeared on the most watched football game of the year.

This fourth time around Santa Paula was again declared the game’s MVP - Most Valuable Place - for filming, a practice that former Fire Chief Paul Skeels said started in the early 1980s at a nearby ranch where a much smaller scale red barn was constructed to match the larger one on the property.

“Several of the department’s old-timers were in it,” and the Budweiser commercial featured firefighters in a Main Street barbershop getting a shave. The scene cut to a screaming fire whistle and then “obligatory shots of firefighters running out of the barber shop half-shaven.”

When they arrived on scene the smaller barn, standing in for its larger counterpart was afire. Skeels said firefighters were shown extinguishing the blaze, but not before one carried a farm animal out of the burning building. 

“Then,” laughed Skeels, “everybody had a beer.... The guys who were in it had a great time,” including firefighter Bill George, rumored to have collected residuals “that went on and on.”

Interim City Manager Cliff Finley, who was interviewed for this week’s news segment on Santa Paula’s use in the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial, said many people commented on the broadcast aired on Channel 2 and Channel 9.

Santa Paula, he noted, “came off great. Councilman Ralph Fernandez saw it and he thought it was pretty good, it was great for Smokin’ Joe’s and Garman’s,” whose respective owners Joe and Wendi Torres and Clint Garman were also interviewed.

Overall, “It’s really positive news for Santa Paula, and we did a heck of a job making it go our way” during the almost two-minute feature, which was run on both stations multiple times.

Finley said Santa Paula’s filming resume is a positive and, “I think the downtown merchants and the city would like more. I said in the television interview having the commercial filmed here was fun, and if it’s working out for the businesses in downtown we’re happy with it.”

“It was great!” said Santa Paula Downtown Merchants Association President Debbie Johnson, who was “really impressed with the Super Bowl commercial.... Then the news piece brought a lot of attention to Santa Paula that I believe will bring people down here to visit our great restaurants and experience our beautiful, historic downtown.” Especially as, Johnson added, “There’s no other like it.”

Santa Paula Film Liaison Patty Harrison said the shoot went great and the follow-up news story only added to showing Santa Paula’s numerous attributes. “It was really exciting that all this attention came our way,” considering the location of many such shoots remains anonymous.

According to Harrison’s filming records, a Miller Lite commercial was filmed in 2007 that was broadcast both during the Super Bowl and thereafter. 

Read about the commercial here:

Watch the video at:

Harrison said a Budweiser advertisement for the 2008 Super Bowl was filmed at Limoneira Orchard Farms and can be viewed at

The Budweiser 2010 Super Bowl ad that continues to draw attention and is a favorite online can be viewed at: or at

The follow up featured news story can be viewed at:

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