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How Passenger's "Let Her Go" Became the Soundtrack to That Budweiser Super Bowl Ad

Image courtesy of Nettwerk Music Group (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Nettwerk Music Group (via ABC News Radio)

Over the past few months, the song "Let Her Go" by Passenger -- the stage name of British singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg -- has become a big hit.  But now it's poised to reach a whole new level of popularity, thanks to its use in the most popular Super Bowl commercial this year.

As Entertainment Weekly reports, both TiVo and the USA Today Ad Meter named the Budweiser " Puppy Love " spot -- which features an adorable puppy who refuses to be apart from his friend the Clydesdale horse -- the most popular commercial that aired during this past weekend's big game.  It's also been viewed on YouTube more than 43 million times.

So how did Passenger's song end up in the ad?  Well, it wasn't a sure thing. In fact, the decision to use the song was only made an hour before the spot was shipped off to NBC's Today show, where it aired the following day.

Karen MacMillan , the senior director of advertising and branding for Passenger's label, Nettwerk Music Group, tells ABC News Radio that it was "nerve-wracking" waiting to hear if the song had made the cut, because there were about five other songs in contention.  And surprisingly, MacMillan says the ones that weren't chosen were from "artists that have a longer history than Passenger does and songs that were iconic songs." 

"I think that each of those usages would have taken the spot in a different direction, and they chose to go in this one," MacMillan adds. But why? She says, "I think that there was a lot of love for the song...it's a great song, it's been in the public eye for the past three months, very, very strongly."

She adds, "I just think that it was the right song for the spot and that it worked emotionally and that it worked musically and that it worked lyrically and it created the feeling that they wanted to create."  Mike -- that's Passenger -- got to sign off on the use of his song in the spot, of course, and both he and his manager were thrilled with it, says MacMillan.

"He saw a cut of the spot before he approved it, it was instant, there was not even a consideration," she tells ABC News Radio. "They saw it and they loved it and they thought it was perfect."

Unfortunately, nobody at the label has been able to contact Mike since the spot aired, since he's been on a vacation "deep in Asia" and has been unreachable.  But meanwhile, the impact's already being felt: according to Billboard , the song experienced a 51 percent sales increase after the Super Bowl, and has moved up to #6 on the magazine's Hot 100.

"We were [already] within the top ten of all the major radio formats, but I believe this is going to be the thing that's going to push it over the edge," says MacMillan of "Let It Go." "And plus, it exposes it to a different audience. And honestly, I feel like it couldn't have happened to a better guy or a better song." 

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio