Anomaly—which was behind Budweiser's headline-grabbing Super Bowl ads for the past seven years—will not handle the 2018 spot, bringing to an end a streak that included puppies, Clydesdales and a look back at the brand's immigrant roots, Ad Age has learned.
While the MDC Partners agency remains on the brand—including globally, where the shop is gaining responsibilities—Bud's U.S. team has begun calling on a wider network of shops for work. WPP's David was recently added to Bud's U.S. roster, and VaynerMedia has won more assignments this year, including a spot that launched Budweiser's limited-edition 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager.
An Anheuser-Busch InBev spokesman confirmed that Anomaly will be sitting out the 2018 Super Bowl for Bud. "The brand has sourced ideas from its collective of creative agencies," including VaynerMedia, David and Mosaic, he said in an email.
"Anomaly is incredibly proud of the past seven years making Super Bowl campaigns for Bud," agency partner Jason DeLand told Ad Age. "Not only did we work with incredibly talented and collaborative clients, directors and terms here, we connected with millions upon millions of hard working Americans and authored some the most celebrated, acclaimed and shared work of our time. I am certain Bud will once again rise to the Super Bowl moment and wish them all the best this year."
But even as it loses the Super Bowl work, Anomaly has been named Bud's global digital agency of record as of Jan. 1, replacing VaynerMedia, which will continue to lead digital in the U.S. Anomaly lost the digital business in 2015, but has powered much of Bud's global creative in recent years. "Anomaly has proven they can tell the Budweiser story in a creative and digital-first way that engages global consumers," the AB InBev spokesman stated. "An expansion of Anomaly's responsibilities will allow the team to focus on integrating Budweiser's marketing efforts."
VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk said in a statement that the agency was excited to expand its U.S. role on the Budweiser brand "and have a bigger seat at the table in 2018."
The decisions show how Bud has adopted different agency approaches domestically, where Bud is a mature and declining brand, and globally, where it is expanding.
Until this year, Anomaly had held a firm grasp on Bud's U.S. creative since 2010, when the brew began cutting ties with DDB, which had held the account since since the mid-1990s. Anomaly made its Budweiser Super Bowl debut in 2011 with a spot that blended the Clydesdales, a Wild West bar and Elton John's 1971 song "Tiny Dancer." In 2013 Anomaly partnered with director Jake Scott on a well-received spot called "Brotherhood" that depicted the bond between a Clydesdale and its trainer, backed by Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide."
A year later, Anomaly and Scott came back with a sequel that introduced a puppy into the narrative. The spot, called "Puppy Love," was judged by Ace Metrix to be the single most-liked Super Bowl spot from 2011 through 2015.
The story continued with another puppy spot in 2015.
The puppies were finally put out to pasture in 2016, when Anomaly's Super Bowl spot, called "Not Backing Down," poked fun at trendy microbrews like pumpkin peach ale. The craft beer community lashed back, but Bud gained plenty of attention, which is half the battle for pricey Super Bowl spots.
Anomaly's 2017 Super Bowl spot, called "Born the Hard Way," also gained headlines for its portrayal of Bud's immigrant roots, which came amid an intense immigration debate stirred by Donald Trump's election.
Bud, which has been in a long-term sales decline, showed signs of a rebound throughout Anomaly's seven-year Super Bowl run. Ad Age in 2015 noted the signs of a comeback when Bud was put on a "marketers to watch" list.
But this year, Bud has fallen on harder times in the U.S. In the four weeks ending Nov. 18, Bud sales in stores fell 8.9% according to Nielsen data cited by Beer Marketer's Insights. Globally, Bud has done better. The brand's revenues increased 4.4% outside of the U.S. in the third quarter, the brewer reported.
AB InBev has of late has put a big emphasis on using its marketing to gain free media coverage by tapping into topical events and conversation. That strategy is apparent in David's first work for the brand that broke this week. The video shows the brand trying to dupe patrons of an Atlanta bar into thinking Prohibition has returned. The video was timed with the Dec. 5 anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. David is known for pulling similar stunts for clients such as Burger King and Heinz.