Stella Artois and M. Ward Just Made the Feel-Good Ad of the Summer

Pereira O'Dell conjures up an infectious 'Daydream'

"What a day for a daydream…"

Stella Artois spins a high-stepping, infectious counterpoint to our intense times in a music video that celebrates carefree days of summertime fun.

Indie folk singer M. Ward updates the 1966 Lovin' Spoonful hit "Daydream" to fine effect, in a duet with Alia Farah. Dancers whirl across sunny streets and rooftops. Eva Longoria, Blake Griffin and Liev Schreiber make cameos and meet their breezy, laid-back summer selves.

Savor three minutes of frothy, feel-good branding in the key of C major:

Daydream - Stella Artois - M. Ward Feat. Alia

Now that's a spirited summer in the city! (A certain other Lovin' Spoonful song about that balmy season would've been a tad too "gritty" for the Stella aesthetic.)

Developed with agency Pereira O'Dell, the initiative amplifies themes explored in Stella's summer authors series hosted by Andy Cohen. Music-video ace Paul Hunter, who's worked with Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson and many others, directed through Prettybird.

Ward plans to release the track on Spotify and Apple Music.

Below, agency cofounder and creative chairman PJ Pereira explains how the project came together:

Muse: How'd you pick that particular song?

PJ Pereira: Its tone is just what a Stella summer song sounds like to us. Something that's easy to sing along with, that you can actually dance to, but also gets stuck in your head—and carves out a nice, comfortable space in your mind. It's less about parties, more about savoring the moment.

Why M. Ward?

We wanted a modern artist who could take the song and make it current, while still respecting the spirit of the original. M. Ward seemed like a great choice. We worked very closely with him and he was very open and collaborative, but we also gave him a lot of space to make it his. This had to be a real song and a real music video, not a jingle or an advertising rendering of an old song.

The concept of the film is inspired by musicals, so we wanted to find an artist who would sing alongside our lead actress. When Search Party, our music partner, brought up the idea of M. Ward, we got excited. His overall style, approach and collaboration with female vocalists in the past—like Zooey Deschanel—was the perfect combination. And he won us over right away by nailing the tone at the demo stage. He has a real soul to his voice, and quite a romantic delivery.

We didn't want something that felt rushed, or too rock 'n' roll. "Daydream" has that vibe already, yet this modern version is a little bit faster than the original.

The celebs—Longoria, Schreiber, Griffin—how'd they get involved?

They interact with their daydreams—lighter, more summery versions of themselves. But we were careful to make them feel part of a larger group.

Eva has been doing a series of cooking content with Stella on social media. Liev hasn't been in too many ads, period. Luckily, one of the few was also shot with our director, Paul Hunter. Liev also happens to be an M. Ward fan. So, once he heard those two were attached to this, and the message of the campaign resonated with him, he was in. Liev is a thoughtful actor who wants to talk through every potential scenario, line, action, motivation—even for a cameo that lasts for a few seconds. So, we had many Zoom conversations with him and his team. Blake has done a ton of advertising, but not in this way—not singing and dancing.

Can you talk about the production?

Doing casting, wardrobe and even choreography via Zoom isn't easy, and we had to navigate around the fact that very few stores were open. On the other hand, because this was the first shoot in California since the pandemic closed everything, we had an amazing talent pool to work with. We had Mandy Moore and Jillian Meyers, choreographers on La La Land, and of course, the genius of Paul Hunter, one of the greatest music video directors.

The first day of the shoot was June 15. Six long days of shooting. The restrictions were tough. The outside shots, for example, could have only 10 people, which is a very small crew for a production like this.

The celebrity shots were all done in their own houses, with their own wardrobe. Which was interesting, because that is really how they live and dress—both their regular and their dream selves. Usually when we are working with big names, the stars stay in a trailer somewhere, and show up just to do their thing. But because it was in their houses, they were way more present, giving suggestions, helping move things around, grabbing props they thought could be useful. We had Eva leaf-blowing the backyard, Liev polishing his piano, Blake cleaning his fence outside with the rest of the crew. Hopefully that humanity and realness is something viewers can feel, even if the scenes themselves are so fantastical.

How does the music video dovetail with the Stella authors series, which featured summertime tales from diverse writers?

The centerpiece of the campaign is the music video, and we used that footage to also cut a few :30, :15 and :06 ads, plus a lot of social content. The literary stories were more of a prologue to the main campaign. A way to pre-establish the idea that in such a different kind of summer, the mental pause of a daydream is so important. When we called [the author series] "Daydreaming in the Life Artois—Tales of a Summer Worth Savoring," and told people to close their eyes and listen to the story, we were preparing them for what was coming next: a summer song called "Daydream" that takes the idea to a much broader audience.

Here's a :30 edit of the work:

Daydream - Stella Artois - M. Ward Feat. Alia (:30)

Client: AB InBev, Stella Artois U.S.
Vice President, Stella Artois: Lara Krug
Communications Lead, Stella Artois: Lauren Denowitz
Media Lead, Stella Artois: Ralph Conserva
Digital Lead, Stella Artois: Katherine Gruneisen
Public Relations Director, Stella Artois: Laura Alito

Agency: Pereira O'Dell 
Creative Chairman, Co-Founder: PJ Pereira
Chief Creative Officer: Robert Lambrechts
Executive Creative Director: Nick Sonderup
Creative Director: Thiago Cruz
Senior Copywriter: Ivan Rivera
Senior Art Director: Camilo Ruano
Copywriter: Anjali Rao
Art Director: Rachel McEuen
Associate Design Director: Som Perry
Production Artist: Evan Zelermyer

Executive Producer: Veronica Beach
Senior Producer: Bridget Pierce
Senior Print Producer: Dana Canneto, Owen Bly
Senior Project Manager: Melanie Christian

Business Affairs: Shay Davis, Audra Brown
Managing Director: Mona Gonzalez
Brand Supervisor: Erica Black

Director of Strategy: Tom Naughton
Brand Strategy Director: Kira Loretto
Communications Strategy Director: Nina Cole
Social Strategy Director: Damara Dikeou
Social Strategist: Haley Carter

Production Company: PrettyBird 
Director: Paul Hunter
CEO/EP: Kerstin Emhoff 
Producer: William Green
Director of Photography: Matt Lloyd 
Choreographer: Mandy Moore

Executive Producer: Camila De Biaggi
Producer: Anna Kravtsov
Creative Director: Alvin Cruz
VFX Supervisor: Tim Crean
Editorial: Cosmo Street
Editor: Lawrence Young
Assistant Editor: Jared Zygarlicke and Josh Berger
Head of Production: Luiza Naritomi
EP: Maura Woodward

Producer: M. Ward
Engineer: John Askew
Vocals/Guitar/Keys: M. Ward
Vocals: Alia Farah
Drums: Jordan Hudson

Writer: John Benson Sebastian
Publisher: Trio Music Company
All rights administered by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC
And Published by Alley Music Corp. (BMI) Courtesy of Round Hill Music

Music Supervision: Search Party 
EP: Winslow Bright
Music Supervisor: Meghan Currier
Mix & Production: Stewart Lerman 

TVC Audio
Audio Mix: Heard City
Mixer: Phil Loeb
EP: Sasha Awn

Billboard Graphics
Artist: Studio Posti
Production Company: Dress Code
Executive Creative Director: Andre Andreev
Executive Producer: Brad Edelstein
Head of Post Production & Operations: Tara Rose Stromberg

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