Budweiser is making an environmental play with one of its Super Bowl ads, with some help from Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." The classic song backs the spot, which touts Anheuser-Busch InBev's use of wind power in its brewing operations.
The ad, by David, will run as a 45-second spot in game. Today, the brand released a 60-second version. It opens with a close-up of a dalmation riding atop a wagon of Budweiser being hauled by Clydesdales through the California countryside. The horses, long a fixture in Bud's Super Bowl advertising, return to a featured role after being relegated last year to a mere 5-seconds of ad time.
The ad, called "Wind Never Felt Better," shows the Clydesdales galloping through a wind farm, complete with Bud-branded turbines. On-screen text states that Budweiser is "now brewed with wind power."
The brewer last year set a goal to ensure that by 2025 all of the electricity it purchases globally will come from renewable sources.
In the U.S., about half of the purchased electricity used in the company's 12 breweries and other operations comes from renewable energy, which it says is enough to brew more than 20 billion 12 oz. servings of beer each year. This allows the brewer to say that Budweiser, its second largest brand behind Bud Light, is brewed with "100 percent renewable electricity"—a claim that Bud began touting last year on its packaging.
Budweiser similarly took a do-gooder approach with its 2018 Super Bowl spot, which touted the brewer's canned water giveaway program that is activated in the wake of natural disasters, like hurricanes. This year's spot gets a little closer to the actual product—beer—by talking about what goes into making it.
"It's a different way to talk about quality," says Ricardo Marques, VP of marketing for core and value brands at AB InBev. "This is about what we are doing to improve and minimize the impact on the environment and how we brew."
In an interview earlier this month, AB InBev's U.S. marketing chief Marcel Marcondes said the brewer would avoid anything that touches on politics with its eight Super Bowl ads.
Talking about an issue such as the environment is not totally playing it safe considering that climate change is a topic that is often politicized, especially in the era of Donald Trump. However, Bud's ad seems unlikely to draw much backlash, considering the brewer is talking about its own operations, rather doing anything that could be seen as preachy.
Still, Bud will make an environmental call-to-action outside of the ad by plugging a partnership with Drift, a startup that operates a peer-to-peer electricity marketplace powered by algorithms that it makes it easier to get access to clean energy. Starting today through Feb. 7, Bud will cover the first month's bill for anyone who switches to Drift and uses it to swap to a sustainable energy source. The deal is featured on Budweiser's website and its social channels. Budweiser also pledged to donate enough clean energy to Atlanta to power the city during Super Bowl week.
But with the ad itself, Bud is leaning into the cute factor by prominently featuring the dalmation, whose cheeks are shown blowing in the wind in the opening shot. The ad is directed by Adam Berg of the production company Smuggler. Dalmations have historically been associated with Bud's Clydesdales ads. The star in this year's spot is named April. Bud struck a deal to have April featured on the Dogist Instagram page, which has 3.4 million followers.
AB InBev's wind power comes as result of a deal it struck in 2017 with Enel Green Power, which operates the Thunder Ranch wind farm in Oklahoma. The brewer executed what is called a "virtual power purchase agreement," in which Enel sells to AB InBev the electricity output delivered to the grid by a 152.5 MW portion of the wind farm, "substantially boosting the beer company's acquisition of renewable energy," according to the 2017 announcement. As result, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an amount that is the equivalent of taking more than 85,000 U.S. vehicles off the road every year, according to the announcement.
Angie Slaughter, the brewer's VP of sustainability, says buying the wind energy is not more expensive than using non-sustainable sources. Asked if it was cheaper, she would only say, "we have done nothing more than create value for the company out of this initiative."