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Anheuser-Busch InBev is giving fast-growing Michelob Ultra the coveted first ad slot in the Super Bowl. And the brewer will use the airtime to run an ad that continues the low-carb brand's active lifestyle positioning, but with a harder edge.
The 30-second spot, called "Breathe," in many ways resembles an ad for a sports brand like Nike or Under Armour. Men and women are shown in intense athletic pursuits -- from weightlifting to yoga -- and each person lets out a loud breath. The beer is not shown until 22 seconds in, right before the tagline: "Brewed for those who go the extra mile." The old tagline, "Superior Light Beer," isn't being abandoned, said a spokesman, but the new phrase will be prioritized in 2016.
The agency is FCB, Chicago, which won the account a year ago. The spot is directed by Antoine Fuqua, whose directing credits include the 2001 film "Training Day."
The ad "highlights the many ways that Michelob Ultra drinkers put in the effort to live an active, balanced life, in a disruptive, grittier style that people haven't seen before in the brand's previous marketing," A-B InBev said in a statement.
"We know that Michelob Ultra drinkers exercise regularly and still make time to have a social life," Edison Yu, VP for Ultra, said in a statement. "Doing this isn't easy, especially with so many other demands, so we made 'Breathe' to celebrate those who put in this extra effort and choose a beer that they can enjoy without sabotaging their hard work."
Ultra is among the fastest growing beer brands in the nation. Sales were up more than 20% in the year-to-date through Jan. 23, according to Nielsen store sales data recently cited by Beer Marketer's Insights.
A-B InBev -- which is running a total of five ads in the game for four brands -- announced several weeks ago that its ad buy includes the so-called "A1" slot in the game, which is the first ad that airs during the first ad break. The brewer has long been the exclusive beer category advertiser in the game and frequently gets the first ad. Typically A-B InBev uses the slot to run 30-second ads.
This year, the brewer is running a 60-second spot for Bud Light and a 60-second spot for Bud, as well as another 30-second for Budweiser and a 30-second ad for Shock Top. With the Ultra ad released today, the brewer has now shown all of the ads except for the 30-second Bud spot.
Asked about the decision to give Ultra the first ad slot, a spokesman said it is "just another way of showing A-B's investment in the brand in 2016," adding that "we're doubling marketing investment in Ultra this year."
The brewer spent more than $61 million in measured media on Ultra in the first 10 months of last year, according to the latest data available from Kantar Media.
Mr. Fuqua directed a second Ultra 30-second spot that will air in the Super Bowl only if the game goes into overtime, the brewer stated. The spot will air in other programming this year as "part of an integrated marketing campaign rooted in the effort it takes to live an active, balanced life," the brewer stated.
Ultra was last advertised in the Super Bowl in 2010.