The Clydesdales will be in the Super Bowl after all—just not from Budweiser and only in Boston and New York. Those are the markets in which Sam Adams will run an ad during the Super Bowl that pokes fun at Bud’s iconic horses.
The ad begins with the typical sentimental music Bud has deployed in previous Super Bowls as the camera pans in on Clydesdales with a wagon in tow. Then the horses are shown breaking free and causing all kinds of havoc. The culprit is the Sam Adams ad character “Your Cousin From Boston,” who is shown at the end of the spot holding a pin that came loose and set the horses free.
The spot is from Goodby Silverstein & Partners.
Bud-owner Anheuser-Busch InBev holds exclusive ad rights for national beer ads in the Super Bowl. The Sam Adams spoof comes as Budweiser, which has long used Clydesdales in its Super Bowl ads, is sitting out the game for the first time in 37 years.
The Sam Adams ad plugs its new Wicked Hazy IPA. “We couldn’t think of a bolder way to launch our big bet for 2021 than an ad for the big game,” Boston Beer Company Chief Marketing Officer Lesya Lysyj said in a statement, tiptoeing around the use of the phrase “Super Bowl,” for which only official National Football League sponsors such as AB InBev have rights to use.
Added GS&P Co-Chairman Jeff Goodby: “This big game misdirect is exactly what you might expect from the mischievous Your Cousin from Boston. The guy’s excited about Sam’s new Wicked Hazy and look what he goes and does. You just can’t stop him.”
An AB InBev spokesman declined comment on the ad.
The spot has the potential to cause a legal kerfuffle. AB InBev has a trademark for the Clydesdales. Brands are legally free to use images associated with competitors for comparative advertising, but they can’t be used in a disparaging way, according to an ad lawyer who spoke to Ad Age on the condition of anonymity.
Whether showing horses long associated with Budweiser running free and causing havoc would be considered disparaging would be up to the courts to decide, should AB InBev opt to pursue legal recourse.
A Goodby representative declined comment.