Anheuser-Busch InBev is adding Michelob Ultra to its Super Bowl ad lineup, marking the brand's first appearance in the game since 2010.
The brewer has previously confirmed that Budweiser, Bud Light and Shock Top -- the last of which has never run a Super Bowl spot -- will also have time in the game. The marketer confirmed Ultra's return in a statement on Friday. The four brands will consume a total of three minutes in ad time during the Super Bowl, including the so-called "A1" spot immediately following kickoff.
The 2016 ad buy is 30 seconds less than the brewer's 2015 Super Bowl load, which consumed 210 seconds for two brands—Bud and Bud Light. In 2014, A-B InBev used 240 seconds, so this is the second straight year the brewer's ad time has shrunk. As usual, the brewer has exclusive category rights in the game, meaning no other beer advertiser can run in-game ads.
Bud Light will get one single ad this year, and it is expected to be used to break a new campaign from new agency Wieden & Kennedy. Anomaly -- which is Budweiser's global agency of record -- will handle the Bud and Shock Top ads. Ultra's ad is being handled by the brand's lead agency, FCB Chicago, which won the business a year ago.
"People have come to expect groundbreaking creative from our brands during the Super Bowl, and this year is no exception," Jorn Socquet, the brewer's VP of U.S. marketing, said in a statement. "A powerful Super Bowl ad can set the tone for a brand's performance throughout the following year and beyond, and we've made significant investments to ensure that this year's spots will connect with fans in new and unexpected ways."
The Mich Ultra ad comes as the so-called "Superior Light Beer" continues to be a star player in A-B InBev's portfolio. The low-carb brew has owned a positioning linked to physical activity like running and biking. The brand has consistently posted strong sales growth, while other big light beer brands, including Bud Light, have struggled to grow. In the four weeks ending Jan. 2, Ultra grew sales by 22.7% compared with a 1.5% decline for Bud Light, according to Nielsen data cited by Beer Business Daily.
As of late last year, Ultra ranked as the seventh-largest beer in the U.S., according to IRI, which does not include bar sales.
Ultra's 2010 Super Bowl spot featured Lance Armstrong, showing him enjoying the beer and living the "Ultra life" after training. The brewer dumped the cyclist as an endorser at the end of 2012 amid allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.