Over the years, Anheuser-Busch InBev's Super Bowl ads have sought to make viewers laugh at its jokes or bond with lovable animals like puppies and Clydesdales. But in its first ad for this year's game, released early, the brewer positions itself as a do-gooder.
"Taps," the spot for its imported Stella Artois brew, stars actor Matt Damon plugging his Water.org organization, which invests in clean water initiatives for developing countries. Damon founded the nonprofit in 2009 with Gary White, a longtime water and sanitation adviser. Water.org has partnered with Stella for four years and Damon has previously appeared in ads for the cause. This marks the first time he's making the appeal in a Super Bowl spot.
The ad, from Mother, promotes a program in which Stella will donate money to provide 12 months of clean water for one person in the developing world for every purchase of a Stella 12-pack from Jan. 15 through April 15. For each pint of bottle bought in bars, Stella will donate enough to provide one month of clean water. Stella is also putting on sale a specially designed version of its iconic chalice glasses. Each chalice purchase translates into a donation that will provide five years of clean water, according to the brand. The chalice designs reflect countries where water.org provides support, including Mexico, India and Philippines.
The program kicks off today with an event in New York City hosted by Damon called "Make Your Super Bowl Party Matter." The first 100 people in line will get a free beer.
The ad is the first of what will likely be many released in the days leading up to the Feb. 4 Super Bowl as brands seek pre-game buzz. In Stella's case, the brand went early to capture the interest of people buying beer for Super Bowl parties. "We all stock up on on beer for Super Bowl," says Stella VP Harry Lewis. "You might as well stock up on a beer that makes a contribution to the world."
The ad marks Stella's first Super Bowl appearance since 2011 ("Crying Jean"). AB InBev will also run a 60-second spot for Bud Light that's part of its comedic "Dilly Dilly" campaign. Ads for Michelob Ultra and Budweiser are also planned.
The brewer holds exclusive alcohol advertising rights to the game. That means that despite the NFL's new rule permitting hard liquor spots, none will air nationally during the game. Still, other alcohol brands can sneak into the game by making local ad buys, and if enough of them are strung together, marketers can reach a significant portion of the huge Super Bowl viewing audience. Yellow Tail wine adopted this strategy last year and the brand is poised to come back this year with similar buys, according to a spokesman.