Luckily for Anheuser-Busch, Super Bowl XXIII was a tight contest, keeping viewers watching long enough to see all of the Bud Bowl spots as well. After a sequence including Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, the inaugural Bud Bowl comes down to a last-gasp kick to break a Bud-Bud Light tie.
D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles actually came up with a couple of other endings that it liked. "There is an alternate ending in which the game is suddenly stopped by otherworldly forces," recalled Ben Fernandez, who helped create Bud Bowl as an executive producer at the agency. "A hand reaches in the stadium and pulls two players off the field. Cut to reveal a guy closing his refrigerator with two cold beers in hand."
That one didn't air because Anheuser-Busch President-CEO August Bush III didn't like it, according to Grant Pace, a copywriter on the Bud Bowl. The team came up with another option, Pace told Deadspin years later:
Right before the kick, the broadcast cuts away to the movie Heidi. It was in reference to the Heidi Bowl. That was the first time a client ever came around and high-fived me at a meeting. We all loved that ending.
DS: What happened?
GP: We couldn't get it by NBC. We took it to them, all excited, but we hadn't figured the the head of NBC was Michael Wiseman, who had also been in charge when the original Heidi Bowl occurred. I guess he still had a wound on his ass from that game. "You want to bring up the Heidi Bowl during our Super Bowl, on my network? No way, no how."
The sequence of Super Bowl ads that ran in the end, combined with in-store promotions leading up to the game, produced a 17% lift in January sales according to Pace. Anheuser-Busch was also pleased enough to bring back the franchise in 1999 (see "Bud Bowl II Part 1").
For those who care about the score on the real field, the 49ers wound up beating the Bengals, 20 to 16.
BRAND: Budweiser and Bud Light
AGENCY: D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles