For the first time since 1983, when Anheuser-Busch used all of its ad time to introduce a beer called Bud Light, the beer giant isn’t advertising its iconic Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl.
Instead, they’ll funnel those funds towards coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. Gonna be strange not seeing those famous “Clydesdale” horses on Super Sunday.
Anheuser-Busch still has four minutes of advertising during the game for its other brands which includes, Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. Those, in particular, are some of their hottest sellers, especially among young viewers.
But the decision not to do an authentic Budweiser ad, which over nearly four decades has made American icons of frogs, chirping “Budweiser” and guys screaming “Whassup!” — showcases the caution with which some advertisers are approaching the first-ever COVID Era Super Bowl.
This move follows suit with PepsiCo., which won’t be advertising its biggest brand, Pepsi, in order to focus on its sponsorship for the halftime show. (It will be advertising Mountain Dew and Frito-Lay products).
It doesn’t stop there as Coca-Cola, Audi and Avocados from Mexico are sitting out the mega event altogether. The big-brand absences are just one way the Super Bowl will look completely different from previous years, as the world changed drastically about a month after last year’s big game.
Still, in an uphill battle to return to some sort of normalcy, this is a step these major brands feel is necessary to help us get there.
COVID Messing Up The Super Bowl Money
The attendance will even be limited to 22,500, roughly a third of the capacity of Raymond James Stadium which holds 65,890 fans. Most expect the traditional Super Bowl parties to be slimmed down to smaller gatherings with families.
The global pandemic has cut deeply into sales for many Super Bowl advertisers. With the going price for an ad of 30 seconds costing $5.5M for during Super Sunday on CBS, a few have decided it’s not worth it this year.
For example, Coca-Cola has been hit hard since about half of its sales come from stadiums, movie theaters, and other usually crowded places that have been closed during the pandemic.
In December the carbonated drink giant even had layoffs, and said it wouldn’t advertise this year to ensure, it’s “investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.”
New Super Bowl Brand Giants Enter The Mix
This has opened up opportunities for others to take center stage like TikTok rival Triller, online freelance marketplace Fiverr and online seller Vroom.
Some regulars remain like M&Ms, Pringle’s, Toyota and a few others will have a presence. But all companies running ads this year will face a number of challenges. Super Bowl ads are usually developed months in advance and shot in the fall, which in turn means these ads airing in two weeks were shot under very costly pandemic conditions and without any idea of how the 2020 presidential election would actually turn out.
This further complicates the already delicate process of striking that right tone that acknowledges what is going on in the world, while managing to either entertain or pull at viewer heartstrings and still find a way to tie it all back to the brand.
Budweiser will still have a marketing presence around the big game. Beginning Super Bowl week (Monday), the brand will air an ad that celebrates resiliency during the pandemic. This will include a socially distanced birthday parade and athletes in Black Lives Matter jerseys.
The ad, will be narrated by actress and director Rashida Jones, ends with healthcare workers being vaccinated and talks about the brand’s donation to this vaccination effort. Being in an era of social media and digital advertising, brands aren’t limited to running ads for one event, since consumers can see them online, everywhere from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to YouTube.
The Super Bowl is the most popular sports event, aside from the World Cup that anyone is gonna see. An event that draws many to the advertising is never going to go away.