“Genius” Star Wars Beer Ads From 20 Years Ago Go Viral

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Mar 08, 2024

Remember the good old days of television when we had to watch commercials in between the best parts of a movie? Well, this past week, social media users are reliving one of the oddest commercial breaks that involved George Lucas’ “Star Wars.”

The commercial break shows an advertisement for a Chilean beer Cerveza Cristal stitched into the original “Star Wars” movie trilogy.

What Is the Beer Ad?

Star Wars” fans know that George Lucas’ isn’t afraid to go back and play the editing of his old films, but this beer advert is not the filmmaker’s work. Instead, the Cerveza Cristal Beer stitched ad cuts directly into the film, creating hilariously jarring moments.

A side by side image of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) working out and a hand holding a beer can

Source: LucasFilm/Windy/X

Footage of old-school commercials circulated on social media, seeing characters from the beloved franchise suddenly break away from the scene to grab a beer.

The Commercials Avoided Taking Viewers Out of the Movie

One X, formerly known as Twitter, Wind looks to have gotten the clip back into the collective consciousness of the internet, writing: “Around 2003 in Chile, when the original trilogy of “Star Wars” began airing on television there, they did this funny thing to avoid cutting to commercial breaks.

A side-by-side image of Luke looking and a dozen beers in an ice chest

Source: LucasFilm/Windy/X

“They stitched the commercials into the films themselves. Here is one of them, with the English dub added in.”

People Claim the Ads Are Fake

While some people believe that these ads are not real and were made up for “internet points,” Windy wrote on X, “They’ve clearly ignored the good practice of fact checking! I would NEVER make something like that up for internet points.”

A man in a snow suit drinking a beer from a glass

Source: Lucasfilms/YouTube/Windy/X

The user included another clip of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) using a lightsaber to open up the deceased tauntauns on Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back,” which cuts to beers falling out onto the snow with the theme song for the Chilean beer playing.

The Beer Ads Drew in Controversy

The 20-year-old ad, which made it appear that characters in the “Star Wars” movies were grabbing the Chilean bear through some clever ad placement and practical effects, was controversial at the time.

A side by side image of Emperor Palpatine laughing and a hand using the force to get a beer

Source: Lucasfilms/YouTube/Windy/X

If a viewer isn’t paying close attention to what is happening on screen, then it looks like Emperor Palpatine is using the Force to pull a beer out of some off-screen fridge.

The Star Wars Beer Ads Won Top Prize at an Advertising Festival

While the ads are hilarious if not a bit controversial, the agency behind the campaign had a lot to be proud of. A report for the Guardian 20 years ago stated that the agency, OMD Santiago, won the top prize at the Cannes International Advertising Festival that year.

A hand grabbing a beer out of an ice chest in "Star Wars"

Source: LucasFilm/Windy/X

The article highlights that the “genius” ads extended beyond “Star Wars” movies, but the most memorable versions of the ad were those associated with them.


George Lucas Was Not Happy About the Ads

The Guardian (via IGN) reported that Lucas was not happy with advertisers chopping and changing his movie to add advertisements for Cerveza Cristal, despite celebrating the ads on an advertising level.

A man with long grey hair and in a suit on a red carpet

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The “Star Wars” creator, Lucas Films, filed a grievance with the Chilean Council for Self-Regulation and Advertising Ethics at the time. Lucas Films won the legal proceeding, and they ensured that the ads were never aired again.


The Ad Was Not Limited to “Star Wars”

But that didn’t stop the TV channel and Cerveza Cristal from collaborating again. According to BNN, the two “partnered once more in 2004” to embed similar ads into films like “American Beauty,” “Notting Hill,” and “Gladiator.”

Maximus (Russel Crowe) holding a cerveza while battling in "Gladiator"

Source: CSMFHT/X

While these clips have not emerged from the shallow grave of early 2000 television ads, the internet works in mysterious ways. Give it a few days, and those clips will be making the rounds in no time.


The Internet Creates Their Versions of the Ad

Now, some standouts deserve mentioning here as Cerveza Cristal becomes a ripe meme to insert into the biggest movies and shows of the last few years.

Paul (Timothee Chalamet) pulling a beer out of the pain box in "Dune"

Source: Owain Anderson/X

Some users have decided to parody scenes from Dennis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic “Dune,” with one well-editing video showing Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) removing his hand from the “pain box” to reveal a can of Cerveza Cristal.


No One Is Safe from Cerveza Cristal

From Optimus Prime in the cartoon version of “Transformers” having a Cerveza Cristal in his chest to Frodo (Elijah Wood) holding the Cerveza Cristal of Power in “The Lord of the Rings,” there are endless ways to play with the once iconic controversial ad.

A side-by-side image of Obi-Wan looking at Luke and a hand reaching for a beer

Source: Lucasfilms/YouTube/Windy/X

Again, more of the original Cerveza Cristal ads exist somewhere in the depths of the internet. It would be interesting to see how the ad company included beer ads in some of our other favorite films.


Smarter Product Placement in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Ad placement in films and television is nothing new. While some shows hide it better than others, some productions can’t seem to integrate ads seamlessly into their stories. It would be hard for a new “Star Wars” or “Dune” film or show to include ad placement when they take place in another world.

Darth Vader reaching out to Luke Skywalker in "The Empire Strikes Back"

Source: Star Wars Malaysia/YouTube

Stitching ads to scenes of the film might contradict the creator’s original vision. But if commercials are going to cut into the film, then why not have fun with it?


The Internet’s (Current) Favorite Thing

Until we decide to enjoy the world of commercial breaks again in the era of streaming, we will enjoy the nostalgia and hilarity of the artful cuts made to give the impression that Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) keeps a cerveza tucked in the sleeve of his Jedi robe.

Optimus Prime with a glass beer in his chest

Source: Sixo/X

Social media has a positive view of the avant-garde approach to this advertising, and are eager to create their versions through artificial intelligence and a little Photoshop magic.