For the first time in 37 years, football fans across the U.S. won’t see Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdales during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast — at least not the ones owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Instead, A-B will donate the dollars it would have spent to the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative and use its four minutes of exclusive national beer advertising time to promote Bud Light, Bud Light Lemonade Seltzer, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer.
The world’s largest beer company has also made several regional buys.
However, viewers in New York and Boston will still be entertained by equine thanks to Boston Beer’s “big bet” on the new Samuel Adams Wicked Hazy IPA.
Building on its “Your Cousin from Boston” campaign, Boston Beer has purchased 30 seconds of regional airtime to promote Samuel Adams on Super Bowl Sunday for the first time ever.
The spot, titled “Horses,” opens with a shot of what appears to be the Budweiser Clydesdales when a passerby pulls a pin from the carriage hitch, sending the stallions stampeding through a New England town.
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As chaos ensues, Your Cousin from Boston appears, holding a case of Wicked Hazy IPA and the pin.
“Whoops,” he says. “I did not see that coming.”
The commercial, aimed at attracting younger consumers to the Samuel Adams brand, cost Boston Beer $770,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. That investment has already paid off, Boston Beer CMO Lesya Lysyj told me.
“From a success standpoint, making a PR splash was our big objective and we have fortunately been able to more than pay back our investment in PR value for this initiative,” she said.
But in the process of trying to one-up the Budweiser brand, did Boston Beer inadvertently give A-B a free airtime?
“We know consumers watch Super Bowl ads pretty carefully, so we bet on the fact that they would be drawn in by the horses, making the misdirect surprising and really funny,” Lysyj argues.
From her point of view, the goal of a Super Bowl spot is to entertain.
“We felt it was important to just laugh,” she said.
In addition to providing comedic relief to viewers, Boston Beer is using the Super Bowl as an opportunity to bring additional economic relief to restaurant workers nationwide via its Restaurant Strong Fund.
The company has already crowned itself the “champions” of big game beer commercials and has launched an online store with commemorative T-shirts, hats and glassware available for purchase. Boston Beer has committed to donating 100% of proceeds to the Restaurant Strong Fund.
“We will also be contributing an additional $100,000 to keep the good going,” Lysyj said.
Boston Beer isn’t the only beer company crashing the Super Bowl party this year.
A-B’s biggest competitor, Molson Coors
“Not being able to advertise in the actual game only forces us to get even more creative with our plans,” Molson Coors CMO Michelle St. Jacques told me.
In an effort to grow awareness for its Coors Light and Coors Light hard seltzer brands, Molson Coors wants to insert itself into consumers’ dreams.
“The one place that our competitors can’t keep us out of advertising during Super Bowl is literally in people’s minds,” St. Jacques said. “So, we created a full experience to run the first Super Bowl commercial ever in your dreams.”
The company has created an “eight-hour stimulus soundscape” filled with subliminal visuals of Coors Light, and it is encouraging consumers to view the content before falling asleep on February 6.
The ethically dubious approach to advertising is intended to keep its brands “top of mind as consumers go into stocking up for the big game,” St. Jacques said.
Meanwhile, Molson Coors is taking a more direct challenger approach with Miller Lite.
It is asking consumers to type a “ridiculously long” 836-character URL during Michelob Ultra’s ad, which it says will burn one calorie — the difference between a Miller Lite and a Michelob Ultra.
Both approaches “ladder up” to existing marketing strategies for the two brands, St. Jacques explained.
“There is nothing more chill than a refreshing night’s sleep,” she said of the Coors Light ad, which ties into the company’s ongoing “Made to Chill” campaign.
And the Miller Lite spot?
“This isn’t the first time, nor the last time we punch up at Michelob Ultra, reminding beer drinkers that more taste is worth the one extra calorie,” St. Jacques added.
Several other major beer companies — including Constellation Brands
To promote its Corona Extra brand, Constellation Brands is encouraging celebrities and social media users to submit #RomoReplacement audition tapes.
The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current Corona pitchman will be in the broadcast booth for Super Bowl LV, which means Constellation Brands needs someone else to man its “Corona Hotline.”
The New York-based alcohol company also purchased a 30-second spot in Florida to promote Funky Buddha hard seltzer.
Diageo tapped former San Francisco 49ers and Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana for a Guinness ad, while HUSA is running a Tecate ad titled “Mexico is in Us” in Los Angeles.
You can view all of the Super Bowl beer commercials below.
Samuel Adams: Horses
Molson Coors: Coors Big Game Commercial of Your Dreams: Dream Study
Molson Coors: Ridiculously long calorie-burning Big Game URL
Constellation Brands: Corona | Romo Replacement
Constellation Brands: Funky Buddha Premium Hard Seltzer | Funky The Ordinary
Diageo: Guinness x Joe Montana | GOAT
HUSA: Tecate | Mexico is in Us
A-B InBev: Bud Light
A-B InBev: Bud Light Lemonade Seltzer
A-B InBev: Michelob Ultra
A-B InBev: Michelob Ultra Organic Hard Seltzer
A-B InBev: Cutwater Spirits
A-B InBev: Stella Artois
A-B InBev: Budweiser “Bigger Picture”