Budweiser and agency Anomaly made a bold move in the 2015 Super Bowl by directly taking on the microbrews nipping at its Clydesdales' hooves ("Brewed the Hard Way"). Plenty of beer drinkers would argue that Bud didn't have much to go on, product-wise, and punching down almost never looks good, but the 2015 ad somehow pulled it off. "Let them drink their pumpkin peach ale," the voice-over said. (Small brewers subsequently trolled Bud by rolling out actual pumpkin peach beers in response, while others pointed out that Anheuser-Busch InBev had been an aggressive acquirer of craft brewers in recent years.)
For 2016, Budweiser brought back the theme with another execution, including glimpses of Clydesdales that convey the animals' power better than any of the recent stuff with puppies. It's the first time they look like impressive beasts instead of versions of Santa's reindeer. "Not Backing Down" dismisses smaller brewers as hobbyists and even proclaims that Bud is "not for everyone," as if it's the one that's favored by sophisticated palates.
"We are not a one-trick pony," Brian Perkins, U.S. VP for the Budweiser brand, told Ad Age. "You don't want to jump the shark and keep trotting out the same stuff every year."
The puppies got attention and won awards and views, he said. But "this new approach that we kicked off with 'Brewed the Hard Way' has a much higher correlation to selling beer than anything we've tried in the last few years, which is why we are going all-in on that approach," he said. The campaign has "delivered the best results on the brand we've seen in 14 years. So we now have a high level of confidence about this new tone of voice."
The brewer released a minute-long version on Feb. 5, two days before Super Bowl 50.
Director: Chris Sargent. Production company: Anonymous Content. Senior executive producer: Gina Zapata. Producer: Brady Vant Hull. Director of photography: Dan Mindel.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.