CHADRON – When the television advertising extravaganza of Super Bowl LIV begins Feb. 2, Chadron State College graduate Marty Lastovica will be carefully watching for an ad for Budweiser beer.
Lastovica’s interest comes from more than just an affinity for beer; the 60-second ad will be the official unveiling of a new label and packaging design for Budweiser’s worldwide product line he had a major role in creating.
“It will be very exciting to watch,” Lastovica said in a phone interview from St. Louis, Missouri, where he heads a graphic design team for AB-InBev, the Belgium-based company that owns Budweiser. “I’ll definitely have a Budweiser in hand.”
Lastovica and his team worked for more than six months to redesign the bottle, can, and packaging labels for Budweiser’s entire global operation.
“It was a long process; a lot of late nights and back and forth emails,” he said. “I know we did over 30 designs and revisions.”
The project started from a vintage-look design Lastovica created for the planned 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival in August 2019.
“Woodstock was canceled, but the cans were still printed,” Lastovica said.
Despite the cancellation, Lastovica’s vintage design drew attention from the company’s brand team, which led to the idea of redesigning all of Budweiser’s packaging.
“This turned to, ‘what if we redo the entire look,’” he said. “They turned to us and the project was handed to me. It grew and grew and grew.”
After months of work with variations of fonts, colors, and wording, Lastovica’s design was passed to a global design agency for some final revisions.
“They did some tweaks to it, to kind of make it more global,” he said. “We took it 90 percent of the way and this agency tweaked it that 10 percent.”
The result was inspired by earlier Budweiser labels dating back to pre-prohibition days, but with subtle changes in colors, fonts, and wording.
“We wanted to stay true to what people know Budweiser as,” Lastovica said. “If people are familiar with your brand you don’t want to change drastically.”
Although the Super Bowl ad will be the official debut of the new Budweiser design, the change has already been announced on Twitter and Instagram. The process of changing the packaging for all of Budweiser’s global operation can take months, but Lastovica said he’s already seen a box with the new design at a store in St. Louis, although the cans bore the old label.
Lastovica, who graduated from CSC in 2013 with a degree in graphic arts, said his time at Chadron was instrumental in getting him to the position he has now.
“The art department was extremely helpful in building all these skills like screenprinting, wood block, graphic design, ceramics, and glass blowing,” he said. “Richard Bird (former chair of the Art Department) was the one who kept pushing me to do better. Laura (Bentz) and Mary (Donahue) pushed me even further. They were great instructors.”
The small size of CSC art classes was particularly valuable, because each student had the opportunity for intense critiquing sessions, which helped Lastovica realize the importance of critiques in improving his work.
“It really helps in the environment I’m in now,” he said.
Lastovica said the experience he gained by working with Craig Conway and Bruce Huckfeldt at the CSC Print Shop broadened his knowledge of how digital images are transferred to different materials and helped him land his first job in St. Louis with a printing press. That led to a production and design job at a commercial real estate company and eventually to his designer position with Anheuser-Busch.
The diversity of activities available to CSC students led to a broad range of experiences, said Lastovica, whose college career included helping organize campus variety shows, working in theatre productions, and hosting open mic nights.
“What I really like about Chadron is the size. It’s a nice community and very welcoming. If you want to try something, people are willing to give you a shot,” he said.
And Chadron State’s small size proved valuable, because it fostered face-to-face communication with professors, administrators and other students, said Lastovica.
“The small college was great for me,” he said. “The biggest thing I took from Chadron was going up to people and talking to them.”
Local residents may have already seen examples of Lastovica’s design work for Budweiser. He designed the special edition Mt. Rushmore packaging for the National Park Service released last July. He also had a hand in creating special Budweiser package designs for Major League Baseball teams and Bud Light designs for National Football League teams.