Michelob Ultra’s latest push to portray itself as post-workout beer involves putting Jimmy Fallon and John Cena in a Super Bowl ad.
The pro wrestler urges Fallon, the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” to let go of his hatred of working out by seeing the “lighter side” of it in the 60-second spot from FCB, which was released today. The conversation, held at a bar while Fallon is drinking an Ultra, is followed by a scene showing Fallon running around the track with encouragement from Usain Bolt and “The Tonight Show” house band, The Roots. Pro golfer Brooks Keopka, and beach volleyball stars Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, also make cameos in the ad.
The spot continues the low-calorie beer’s longtime positioning as a fitness-oriented brew—a message that has helped spur Ultra to several years of strong sales growth. The Super Bowl ad is “all about persuading people who may not believe today that fitness and fun go together, that fitness and Michelob Ultra absolutely go together,” says Azania Andrews, VP of marketing for the Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brew.
Ultra is also running a Super Bowl ad for its Pure Gold organic beer variety that plugs a new program in which the brand pledges to help farmers transition to organic crops.
The Fallon spot goes for laughs by playing into Fallon’s workout dread, which he has documented on social media. “For this commercial, Michelob ULTRA was looking to cast someone who hates working out and loves drinking beer," Fallon states in a press release about the ad. "Luckily for me, when you Google that my name is the first thing that pops up."
Of course, Googling Fallon’s name might also yield press reports about him having drinking issues, which he has denied. In 2016, The New York Post citing anonymous sources reported that Fallon was “warned to cut back on his boozing by NBC chiefs following a series of bizarre late-night accidents.” Fallon responded to those allegations as part of a lengthy profile in The New York Times in 2017, saying, “I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night.”
By appearing in a beer ad he risks reigniting conversations about the topic. Fallon, through a representative, declined comment on the matter. An Anheuser-Busch InBev representative said in a statement: “As with all talent we work with, we took appropriate steps to ensure Jimmy would be the right partner for our brand.”