Another iconic advertiser is sitting out the Super Bowl. Budweiser will forgo ad time in the Big Game for the first time in 37 years, breaking a streak that has included some of the most-recognizable spots in Super Bowl history, from 1989’s “Bud Bowl,” to 2014’s “Puppy Love.”
The decision by Anheuser-Busch InBev to sideline the brand for the year’s most-watched TV event follows similar moves by Coca-Cola and Pepsi (although Pepsi will still sponsor the halftime show), signaling that big brands are taking a markedly different approach to this year’s game as COVID and political strife continue to dominate the news cycle.
AB InBev, which for years has been the game’s exclusive beer advertiser, will still consume at least four minutes of national ad airtime in the national broadcast. Ads will run for Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. The brewer will also run what it describes as its “first-ever corporate Super Bowl commercial which launches a campaign highlighting the company’s commitment to making a positive impact on communities and playing a role in our nation’s economic recovery.” (The four minutes of airtime would match what the brewer spent last year; its total buy could still change, according to Marcel Marcondes, the brewer’s U.S. chief marketing officer.)
Instead of running an ad for Bud, the nation’s largest brewer says it will reallocate the spending to support the Ad Council’s coronavirus vaccine public education campaign. “This commitment is an investment in a future where we can all get back together safely over a beer,” the brewer stated. (The average cost for 30 seconds in this year’s game is $5.6 million, although AB InBev has been known to negotiate better terms due to its volume of ads.)
Bud is promoting the move with a digital ad by David, Miami, released today, that is narrated by Rashida Jones and shows Americans coping with the pandemic, plus scenes of some of the first healthcare workers to get the vaccine. The spot, called "Bigger Picture," ends by plugging the Ad Council’s effort, while suggesting Bud will be back for the 2022 Super Bowl with the text, "see you at the game next year."