Bud Light and Budweiser are getting a makeovers at this year’s Super Bowl
Anheuser-Busch may no longer be the only alcohol brand to advertise at the Super Bowl, but it will still have a major presence — even as rivals pounce on the opportunity, following a 33-year drought.
The beer company announced Thursday that it will have three minutes of national air time during this year’s big game, focusing on its biggest brands, including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light. The decision to share the spotlight with rival liquor and beer companies in the Super Bowl comes after it chose not to renew its exclusivity deal last year with the NFL, worth a reported $250 million annually.
Benoit Garbe, chief marketing officer for Anheuser-Busch, told CNN the Super Bowl remains a “great way to kick off the new year” and the highly watched game is a “beautiful platform to showcase our brand and creativity.” The brand has engineered some of the game’s most memorable ads, from the Clydesdale horses to the “Bud,” “Weis,” “Er” frogs.
This year’s focus prioritizes drinkers of traditional beers, Garbe said, a pivot from last year when it bought ads for Bud Light Seltzer, a fad that has seen its popularity since fade and Bud Light Next, its fledgling zero-carb beer that has experienced modest sales since launch. The latter, he said, “broke through” during the Super Bowl, but “needs time and commitment” to grow.
Choosing Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light this year is “consistent with our mega-brand strategy of focusing on large and growing brands during a time of the year with heavier consumption,” Garbe said.
Bud Light’s ad will usher in a reintroduction and a “new era” of the brand, he said. Specifics weren’t revealed, but one of “Hollywood’s hottest stars” will be in the ad. Garbe said the spot will “bring in new life and a new point of view” for the 41-year-old brand. In recent years, customers have been increasingly choosing premium or Mexican lagers, putting Bud Light out of favor with some beer drinkers.
Michelob Ultra, which will have two ads during the game, will continue its focus on health-conscious drinkers who are looking for a low carb count. Garbe said the beer is the company’s “number 1 growth engine” and is soon set to overtake Bud Light in sales. The ads will feature former NFL star Tony Romo and boxer Canelo Alvarez.
Busch Light is also getting the national spotlight for the first time in since 2017. The light lager has also been experiencing double-digit growth for the past five years, Garbe said, and has found its sweet spot in attracting outdoorsy drinkers. An “iconic songstress” will appear in the ad, along with its brand mascot, the Busch Guy.
Lastly, Budweiser is getting a 30-second regional ad. Narrated by actor Kevin Bacon, the ad will spotlight the “stories of passionate, self-made Americans, each connected by a Bud six-pack,” the company said in a release. The beer wasn’t chosen for a national spot because its sales are “extremely regional,” Garbe said, and revealed that the roughly 150-year-old brand will be relaunched this year to focus on a “younger and multicultural audience.”
Including Budweiser’s regional ad, Anheuser-Busch will have three and a half minutes in the Super Bowl (although many people will only see three minutes worth of ads). Garbe declined to say how much money it spent on the ad spots, but noted that the company spent 3.5 times more than the competition. Fox, which will broadcast Super Bowl LVII, is reportedly charging $7 million for a 30-second spot during the February 12 game in Glendale, Arizona.
“We are the biggest advertiser,” Garbe said, adding that the “reality is that there was no true exclusivity” because competitors have always bought ads regionally.
Super Bowl’s open bar
Shortly after Anheuser-Busch’s announcement last year that it was ending its exclusivity deal, Molson Coors said it was a “no brainer” to buy air time during a game that attracts 100 million viewers. This week it began teasing whether it will feature Coors Light or Miller Lite, with the spot scheduled to air during the game’s first half, according to AdAge.
Heineken will spotlight its non-alcoholic beer, in a 30-second ad featuring Paul Rudd from Marvel’s Ant-Man movies. The non-alcoholic beer segment is forecast to become a $40 billion industry within the next decade as more drinkers moderate their habits.
Liquor giant Diageo is making its Super Bowl debut this year with an ad for Crown Royal whisky. Notably, the British brand became the NFL’s first-ever spirits brand, in 2021, and was one of the first liquor brands to advertise within NFL games after the league ended its ban on spirits in 2017.
Also joining in is Rémy Cointreau. The French company bought a 60-second ad for its Rémy Martin cognac that will air in the first quarter of the game. It has previously aired regional ads focusing on its gin.
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