Super Bowl

Bud Is Proudly 'Macro' Amid Micro-Brews in Swagger-Filled Super Bowl Ad

New Campaign Takes Shots at Fruity Craft Beers, Brings Back Old Tagline

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Budweiser stole the Super Bowl pregame with a cuddly, cute puppy. But the King of Beers came out swinging in its second Super Bowl spot with a hard-hitting approach that proudly declared the nation's third-largest beer as a "macro" brew. The ad, which aired for the first time during the game, also revived the old "This Bud's For You" tagline that will anchor a new campaign to replace "Grab Some Buds."

The campaign's debut ad is notable for its swagger. The spot, by Anomaly, takes what appear to be shots at fruity micro brews and beer geeks. Bud is "brewed for drinking, not dissecting," the ad declares over footage of three men who are caricatures of beer snobs. Then comes this: "Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we'll be brewing us some golden suds."

While those lines are sure to get attention, Budweiser VP Brian Perkins said the intent was not to criticize competitors or craft beer in general. Indeed, Bud-owner A-B InBev owns several craft breweries itself -- including Goose Island -- and also has jumped on the fruity beer craze with its Bud Light Ritas franchise.

"This is not an attack on craft beer this is not an attack on competition," Mr. Perkins said. "The only other beer that we reference in the spot is a fabricated, ludicrous flavor combination of pumpkin peach ale."

He said the goal of the ad, called "Brewed the Hard Way," is to "talk in a positive, affirming way about Budweiser quality." The ad, for instance, touts Bud's "beechwood aged" brewing process that, as the spot notes, has been in place since 1876.

Still, Mr. Perkins added that "occasionally we do have a little bit of fun with some of the overwrought pretentiousness that exists in some small corners of the beer landscape that is around beer snobbery. That is the antithesis of what Budweiser is all about."

The campaign marks the return of "This Bud's For You," which has not been used in a significant way in Bud advertising since the late 1970s, according to the brewer. The "Grab Some Buds" tagline debuted in 2010 and was aimed at drawing more millennial drinkers to the brand, which has been stuck in a long-term sales decline.

The new campaign -- and old tagline -- seem better positioned to appeal to core Bud drinkers in Middle America across the age spectrum. But Bud is not giving up on millennials. "To a 21-to-27-year-old consumer today, they will have never seen 'This Bud's For You' in communication," Mr. Perkins said. "So it's a new way to talk to them."

Not a retro campaign
"'This Bud's For You' was a very powerful tagline at one time and it's still there in the psyche of American beer culture," he added. But he stressed that the tagline's revival does not signal a retro campaign. Although there are nods to Bud's heritage in the Super Bowl spot, Bud plans to speak with a contemporary voice that says, in a nutshell, that a brand can be big, and good.

"We can make millions of these per day," Mr. Perkins said. "But this one's for you and it's the same quality standard and the same attention to detail as everything else."

The "macro beer" phrase is an attempt to reframe the "prevailing discourse in a lot of industries, and certainly in beer, that small must be good and big must be bad," Mr. Perkins said. "I don't think anyone has really talked about macro beer before with pride." Bud, he said, wants to own that phrase.

More broadly, the campaign is further proof that big beer brands are trying new ways to recapture their mojo in an age in which craft beer captures so much buzz. Miller Lite, for instance, has been emphasizing its "strong pilsner roots," as it battles what MillerCoors executives have said is a misperception that heavier craft beers are of better quality than mainstream light beers.