Newcastle Brown Ale, which last year pretended to create a Super Bowl TV ad, might actually do one this year -- albeit it on a regional, not national, level.
The Heineken USA-owned brand today announced a new campaign called "Band of Brands" that is aimed at producing the "first-ever crowdfunded Big Game ad" by teaming with other brands. "In exchange for a small contribution, any brand can join Newcastle's team and have its logo and messaging featured in an actual Big Game spot," the brand said in a statement.
The effort, by Droga5, is the latest play by Newcastle to mock conventional advertising techniques with snarky videos that often star celebrities. The "Band of Brands" campaign was launched today with a video starring "Parks and Recreation" star Aubrey Plaza. In the spot (above) she says, "We can help your brands sell tons of whatever the (bleep) your brands sell," adding that "football is a team sport, now advertising is, too."
To this point, the Newcastle spoof campaign has been all-digital. Last year the brand won attention with its mock Super Bowl campaign that included teaser ads promoting a "mega-huge football game ad" the brand "could have made if we had the money, talent and permission to advertise in the game."
The fact is that Newcastle-owner Heineken has plenty of resources to pay for a Super Bowl spot. But Newcastle is blocked from running a national ad during the Super Bowl because Anheuser-Busch InBev holds exclusive beer advertising rights for the game.
Newcastle is seeking to skirt those rules this year by buying local air time during the game's broadcast Feb. 1 on NBC. A Heineken spokeswoman said Newcastle is not revealing the specific markets at this time. Other beer brands have secured local airtime in previous Super Bowls and A-B InBev's national exclusivity does not prohibit such local buys.
But NBC intervened in one recent case: In 2009, Miller High Life created a one-second Super Bowl ad as a critique of other brands that were spending lavishly on Super Bowl spots during the recession. The ad was seen as a shot at rival Anheuser-Busch. But the ads did not run in many large markets -- including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles -- because NBC told its owned and operated stations not to run them. The network "apparently viewed the ads as disparaging to advertisers willing to pay up for the game," Ad Age reported at the time.
Newcastle's crowdsourcing effort plays into the brand's strategy as portraying itself as a scrappy, sarcastic brand in an attempt to appeal to beer drinkers who appreciate the wit. "Everyone loves a great underdog story. What's more 'underdog' than being short on cash and not having the right to advertising during the game?" Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement.
What is next? Perhaps there is a brand out there that will mock Newcastle's mock effort.