Super Bowl

AB Previews Super Bowl Lineup Including New Bud Light Campaign and This Tagline

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Credit: AB InBev

Bud Light is abandoning the celebrity-driven, politically themed marketing approach it took last year in favor of a new campaign that will emphasize the brew's role in bringing friends together. The tagline is "Famous Among Friends," replacing the slogan "Raise One to Right Now," which was designed to tap into current events and cultural moments like last year's presidential election.

Anheuser-Busch InBev will use a 60-second Super Bowl ad to help begin the new campaign as part of its three-minute in-game ad lineup. The brewer will also run a 60-second spot for Budweiser that speaks to that brand's origins, a 30-second Michelob Ultra ad that continues its fitness-themed campaign and a 30-second ad for Busch, which is making its first Super Bowl appearance.

Marcel Marcondes, who took over as AB InBev's U.S. marketing VP late last year, previewed the lineup to reporters on Tuesday. He also gave a glimpse of what he described as a "no bullshit" marketing approach the brewer will take going forward.

"We are not going to create fantasy stories about our brands. We are never going to tell people to … climb mountains and things like this," he said, taking an apparent shot at Coors Light's campaign, which is called "Climb On." AB InBev, he added, will "be true to who we are" and "stay connected to the truth of our brands and that is what we are going to do, so no bullshit." Consumers, he said, "are getting tired of those campaigns that just look like a campaign -- like 'this is the new story that this brand is telling me' " Instead, he said, they want brands "they respect."

The three-minute Super Bowl ad buy is 30 seconds less than AB InBev's buy for last year's game. But the brewer, which holds exclusive beer category ad rights for the Fox broadcast, will still have a consistent presence in the game, running one of its four ads in each quarter.

The Budweiser spot by Anomaly will include a brief appearance by the Clydesdales, continuing a Super Bowl tradition. But the main narrative is an origin story about how Bud came to be. The ad will dramatize German immigrant Adolphus Busch's journey to America, where he created Budweiser in 1876.

Bud Light's new campaign comes at a critical time for the brand, which despite sizeable media spending has not been able to overcome a long-running sales slump. At last year's Super Bowl, the brand with much hype debuted the politically themed "Bud Light Party" campaign from Wieden & Kennedy New York that starred Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen. Ads used humor to push progressive issues like gay rights and equal pay for women. But the campaign failed to live up to the hype or move the sales needle. The brewer in October reported that Bud Light sales to retailers fell by "mid-single digits" in the third quarter.

Mr. Marcondes, a 12-year veteran of AB InBev who most recently served as global VP-marketing brands and growth development platforms, did not disclose creative details on the new campaign, which is again by Wieden & Kennedy New York. He said the brewer is considering releasing some elements before the Super Bowl, but has not made a final decision.

He hinted that the brand would be taking a more grounded, simpler approach."What you are going to see is not epic," he said. "Let's just be Bud Light, that's the best thing we can do." He added: "There is no rocket science here. Bud Light has always been about social moments. Bud Light has always been bringing people together."

Michelob Ultra, which also advertised in last year's game, will continue its "Brewed for Those Who Go the Extra Mile" campaign that has positioned the low-calorie beer as the choice for athletes and people who work out. FCB Chicago is Ultra's agency and will handle the Super Bowl spot.

The economy-minded Busch brand's ad will be making its first Super Bowl appearance, as Ad Age reported late last year. The spot will be handled by Deutsch, New York, which won the account in 2016.

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