"Here We Go" is going bye-bye. The four-year-old Bud Light tagline will be shelved as the nation's largest beer brand unveils a new campaign during the Super Bowl that includes two celebrity-filled spots shot in New York City, Anheuser-Busch InBev executives said in interviews this week.
The new tagline, "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens," is based off a "totally new positioning for the brand" that will be "a little more reflective of millennial values," including optimism and an openness to "get out there and experience the world," said Rob McCarthy, VP for Bud Light.
The brewer also plans to air a third Bud Light Super Bowl spot promoting a new aluminum bottle. Budweiser will get two ads, including one starring the Clydesdales and another that is a tribute to soldiers returning from Afghanistan.
The five ads will run a total of three-and-a-half minutes during the Fox broadcast. That is one minute less than the brewer bought for the past two Super Bowls. The slimmer ad load comes as the brand features its two largest brands, as opposed to last year when it ran ads for four different beers including two new line extensions. "We have flexibility with the network on the total number of units based on the year's needs," Paul Chibe, the brewer's VP for U.S. marketing, said in a statement.
The Super Bowl comes at a transitional time for the brewer, which holds exclusive beer-advertising rights for the game. As Ad Age first reported last week, Mr. Chibe plans to depart in the coming weeks, to be replaced by by Jorn Socquet, the brewer's VP-marketing in Canada since 2010. The leadership change comes as Bud Light, like other big beer brands, has lost market share in recent years as it struggles to compete with spirits and growing craft brands.
The Super Bowl is a critical part of Bud Light's turnaround plan, serving as the launchpad for the new campaign, which marks the debut of BBDO. The agency won the account last year and is servicing the brand from its Chicago and New York offices.
Bud Light will use two ads -- a 60-second spot and a 30-second spot -- to"tell one cohesive story," called "Epic Night" that is "pretty descriptive of the story we are going to be telling," Mr. McCarthy said. The ads, which were shot in New York City, will include "a number of celebrities" that are "A-list in caliber," he said, without naming them. The spots will be teased in ads shown this weekend during the AFC and NFC championship games, he said.
"Here We Go" was launched during the 2010 Super Bowl, emphasizing the brand's traditional good times positioning after the more product-focused "drinkability" campaign. The new campaign is "not going to feel like we are trying to say something completely different to consumers," Mr. McCarthy said. "But it will be brought to life in a fresh and innovative way."
A third ad for the brand totaling 30 seconds will occupy the game's very first timeslot, known as "position 1A," and promote a new "reclosable" aluminum bottle called "Cool Twist" that will occupy store shelves alongside regular bottles. The spot, called "So Cool," will feature "the world debut of a new song from a well-known artist that will be released shortly after the Super Bowl," Mr. McCarthy said. He declined to name the artist, saying the brewer was "finalizing negotiations."
He said the ad would tout a "digital reward" for consumers, declining to give specifics. In the 2012 Super Bowl, A-B InBev ran a Bud Light ad that instructed viewers to use song-identifying app Shazam to download a song. That ad was by long-time roster shop Cannonball of St. Louis, which created this year's ad. The spot marks a more prominent role for the agency, which was sidelined for last year's game.
Budweiser's iconic Clydesdales are back in an ad called "Puppy Love" directed by Jake Scott. It will take on a similar tone to last year's highly acclaimed "Brotherhood" ad (below) that chronicled the bond a foal has with its trainer. The same trainer character will appear again this year but the ad will spotlight a bond between a Clydesdale and a 10-week-old puppy.
"It's sort of an unlikely friendship between these two animals," said Budweiser VP Brian Perkins. The brand has mixed Clydesdales and dogs before, including in this 1999 Super Bowl spot.
Salute to soldiers
A second Bud ad will include the Clydesdales in a smaller role, putting the spotlight on soldiers returning from Afghanistan. "We wanted to use our voice and reach on the Super Bowl to say thank you and give a big salute to the returning soldiers," Mr. Perkins said. Both Bud ads are by Anomaly.
Mr. Chibe raised expectations for the Super Bowl ads last fall when he told distributors that the brewer had "cracked the code" on Bud Light. But industry observers remain skeptical. "Guess he didn't crack the code," trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights reported in the wake of last week's marketing leadership change announcement. "If he had, A-B wouldn't be announcing Paul's departure just three weeks before the Super Bowl. That seems virtually certain," the publication stated. In a note to investors, Stifel analyst Mark Swartzberg called the leadership change "negative" news because it "signals corporate lack of confidence in plans to improve U.S. share trends."
But Mr. Chibe, 46, who led the brewer's interviews with reporters this week on the Super
Bowl plans, has continued to sound a confident tone. He told Ad Age last week
that "I can tell you 1,000% I feel very good about what we have coming in the Super Bowl."
As always, viewers -- and beer drinkers -- will be the ultimate judge.