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Football and beer, beer and football. These two categories have been nigh inseparable and the Super Bowl might just be the pinnacle of that – albeit for the long-standing arrangement which has given AB InBev exclusive rights to the ‘Big Game’ since 1989. While it’s unknown how much AB InBev pays for this privilege it certainly wouldn’t come cheap – however, category exclusivity doesn’t guarantee results alone. With other brands fighting tooth and nail to get noticed by the largest captive audience available to advertisers, the pressure is still on to capitalize on this opportunity.
Our second category deep-dive of Super Bowl LVI examines the various approaches taken by alcohol brands under the AB InBev umbrella — using our 3Cs framework to break down the best performers:
As the official beer of the Super Bowl and a household name, Bud Light ceded its prime-time spots to two newly-launched products: Firstly, Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda, starring Guy Fieri in a quirky but tonally en-pointe trip to ‘flavor town’ to get the mayor’s verdict. The ad’s bright aesthetic, wacky premise, and delightful celebrity appearance entertained viewers while clearly delivering the message that the product packs a flavor punch. As a result, this very strongly predisposed people toward Seltzer Hard Soda – an encouraging sign for the Bud-ding new product.
The second new kid on the block was Bud Light’s zero-calorie ‘NEXT’ beer – taking a sleeker, more youth-oriented creative approach that ‘broke away’ from the conventions of regular beer. While the lively rendition of Barbara Streisand’s ‘Gotta Move’ got people’s attention, the less story-oriented approach resulted in a more subdued emotional response. It also less prominently heroed the NEXT product, leading many to believe the ad was for regular Bud Light — subsequently questioning the ad’s disconnect with the brand’s typical approach.
Having missed last year’s Super Bowl, Budweiser made a bold return with an emotive spot centered around their iconic Clydesdale horses – a tremendously effective brand asset, particularly in the context of Super Bowl. The story of persistence was highly inspirational, if a little passive, engaging people in a more ‘lean-back’ way than the typically high-tempo and ‘out there’ approaches taken by lots of other Super Bowl advertisers. Nonetheless, the ad was effective at building positive feelings toward Budweiser.
Michelob ULTRA took a celebrity-heavy approach in a throw-back to the 1998 smash-hit “The Big Lebowski”, featuring actor Steve Buscemi — who played Donny — again hanging out at a bowling alley (“Superior Bowls”). The ad featured multiple cameos from sporting legends such as Peyton Manning and Serena Williams, with viewers glued to their screens eager to find out who would be next. The presence of an array of top-shelf celebrities, in a fun and laidback setting, helped convey a sense of quality and desirability, effectively predisposing people toward the brand.
Also set in “Superior Bowls”, the second Michelob ULTRA execution took a more direct approach to introducing the brand’s new Organic Seltzer, with pro golfer Brooks Koepka explaining the product’s benefits to viewers. Unfortunately, intended humor didn’t land anywhere near as well for this execution, and instead of creating intrigue and suspense the slow pacing caused people to tune out. Sure, the product was central to the story, but there was little which helped position Organic Seltzer as being different to others.
A small but fast-growing brand in the AB InBev portfolio is Cutwater Spirits, who set out to communicate the convenience of its cocktail-in-a-can range by paying tribute to the laziest individuals amongst us. The ad’s focus on ‘innovatively efficient’ people — including a man using a flamethrower to clear snow from his driveway — was found highly amusing and relatable, offering an unconventional audience to associate your brand with. The black-and-white visuals spotlighted the contrasting product, aiding recognition and effectively standing out from the crowd.
This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.