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updated: 10/7/2013 9:07 PM

Not tough to buy this heartwarming message

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We interrupt this regularly scheduled column for a commercial message.

The only reason the subject applies to sports is it involves a form of basketball. Oh, and beer, the lifeblood of sports. Plus, the advertisement aired on "Sunday Night Football" and other major televised events.

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Finally, it's about friendships forged and fortified through the games we play.

The purpose of the break in the action customarily chronicled in this space is to show appreciation for the Guinness commercial that blows me away every time it airs.

I get all soft and fuzzy, smile a big smile and feel warm all over -- not a good condition for a newspaper critic to suffer from.

Regardless, so many beer ads are about young friends, acquaintances and strangers having fun at sports events, rock concerts or the neighborhood singles saloon. Some show people playing games, pickup something or other, softball or flag football or Fat Man Olympics, and then celebrating afterward with a cold one.

As Jerry Seinfeld put it, "The bad thing about television is that everybody you see on television is doing something better than what you're doing."

He was referring to soft drink ads, but the theory goes for beer, too. Everybody is in swim trunks and bikinis, bouncing to the music a million light years from our world.

The Guinness commercial "Friendship" is refreshingly different.

Six men are having a different kind of fun: They're playing wheelchair basketball on a gymnasium floor that could be down the block and around the corner from your home or office or home office.

If you watch sports on TV you probably have seen the spot by now. Guys in wheelchairs roll around the hardcourt. One takes a shot, another takes a tumble, all are enjoying themselves.

Pretty different for a beer commercial, don't you think? Except that you ain't seen nothing yet.

The game ends and five of the six players get up and walk toward the gym door as the sixth rolls alongside them in his wheelchair.

The five played the game to support their challenged friend. Then the scene shifts to a pub where the men are seated around a table drinking Guinness.

Talk about beer with a twist.

Google "Guinness wheelchair commercial" just for the heck of it. What comes up surprised me. Indications are that I might have been last one to the party featuring this ad.

A Huffington Post headline read, "Surprising Guinness Commercial Will Make Your Heart Melt."

The copy below stated what I was thinking: "We don't often give advertisers free promotions, but this Guinness commercial had us utterly captivated."

"Friendship" is about more than the noble gesture of friends helping friends win a volleyball game and then pick up hot members of the opposite sex.

It's about the even nobler gesture of helping a friend cope with real life's real challenges.

People always wonder why marketers use celebrities as endorsers. Are consumers really going to switch cable systems on the advice of Brian Urlacher or wear the brand of underwear Michael Jordan wears?

Probably not, but I'm telling you, I don't drink beer much anymore, but the next time I do it'll be the one preferred by a bunch of able-bodied wheelchair basketball players and their wheelchair-bound buddy.

This beer's for you, Guinness, in tribute to an ad well done and a message of "Friendship" well received.

Thanks for your patience today, readers, and now back to your regularly scheduled sports section.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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