Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl strategy this year celebrates what it calls a cultural shift happening in golf—and it includes a deal with Netflix that plugs its forthcoming docuseries “Full Swing,” which will give viewers access inside the PGA Tour.
The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand today released both of its in-game ads.
A 60-second ad called “New Members Day” features celebrity athletes and actors reenacting scenes from the greens of Bushwood Country Club, the fictitious course featured in the 1980 comedy “Caddyshack.” Tennis legend Serena Williams and actor Brian Cox are the main combatants on the links; basketball players Nneka Ogwumike and Jimmy Butler; soccer star Alex Morgan; former NFL quarterback Tony Romo and boxer Canelo Álvarez also appear in the ad. Sharp-eyed viewers may recognize Williams' caddy as Michael O'Keefe, the actor who played Danny Noonan in the 1980 movie. And the "Michelob Ultra Guy," so named by being caught on film with the beer at a golf tournament, appears as an extra.
The brand has been teasing the spot with Caddyshack-themed ads featuring the stars. A separate 30-second spot, “Episode Gossip,” promotes “Full Swing.” It shows pro golfer Rickie Fowler joined by Romo and Morgan on the course as they receive an early look at the upcoming series.
Wieden+Kennedy New York handled both ads.
“This is a special, exciting moment for golf. It is, more than ever, joyful, fun and diverse. And we believe it’s crossing into pop culture in ways we haven’t seen before,” Ricardo Marques, VP of marketing for the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand, said in an interview. “That’s meaningful for us in how it beautifully aligns with our point of view as a brand. It’s a beautiful way to articulate our point of view at this particular moment in time.”
Golf’s changing face is in part a result of the pandemic creating more players and venues such as Top Golf creating more places to play. The National Golf Foundation said 2022 marked the fifth straight year of overall golf participation increases. Women in 2022 accounted for 28% of on-course golfers and non-white participation on courses is up to 22%, the group said. At off-course venues such as driving ranges and Top Golf, the average age is 31, women account for 40% and non-whites account for 40%, the group said.
“Full Swing,” which comes from the creators of the popular Formula 1 series “Drive to Survive,” follows pro golfers on and off the links over a course of a championship season. The show debuts on Netflix on Feb. 15 and Michelob Ultra drinkers can scan a code on the ad to access the first episode one day ahead of time.
“This has never been done before, so it’s another first in our plan,” Marques said. “It speaks to how much more vibrant, interesting and energetic the golf world is today versus 20 years ago. We have been a proud sponsor of the PGA [Tour] for many years so it is not a new space for Michelob Ultra, but we believe this particular moment in time aligns perfectly to what we believe in as a brand.”
Some extras in the Michelob Ultra ads will be outfitted in golf wear from Devereux Golf, a company that makes lifestyle golf wear meant to be “more inclusive, inviting, and straight-up less boring,” than traditional golf wear, according to its website. Michelob Ultra is collaborating with Devereux on limited-edition merchandise commemorating the Super Bowl spot. Its ad will be shoppable for Devereux clothing, including its new women’s line.
The Michelob ULTRA x DVRX Collection will be available starting today at michelobultra.com/ultraclub and devereux.com.
Marques said such partnerships—including scannable ads running now that allow shoppers to order Michelob Ultra via Instacart where available—are “incredibly important in this day and age.”
“From an attention standpoint, we believe that an attempt to engage with our audience and create a two-way conversation is a smart way to cut through and grab the attention of the audience. We also believe these partnerships have never been attempted or done before,” Marques said. “It is what we look to do every single year, not only around Super Bowl but year-round, just keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, keep surprising our audience, and keep innovating. That has to be the ambition of a brand like Michelob Ultra.”