Some celebrity endorsements will look poor in retrospect, and the Super Bowl is about as full of celebrity endorsers as can be. But this ad by Palm & Havas in Chicago worked at the time of Super Bowl XLIV: Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, then the new face of Michelob Ultra, positioning the beer as part of a lifestyle so healthy that a little extra milk in your cereal is considered indulging.
When Anheuser-Busch InBev's pact with Armstrong was announced in October 2009, then-VP for U.S. Marketing Keith Levy called him "an ideal ambassador for this brand." In a statement at the time, he called the cyclist "the perfect athlete to connect with adult beer drinkers who lead active lifestyles."
The endorsement deal would continue through the end of 2012, the year in which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a nearly 1,000-page report implicating Armstrong in using performance-enhancing drugs.
After Armstrong confessed on TV to Oprah Winfrey (in a telecast that itself became a big event for advertisers), Ad Age's E.J. Schultz asked Levy, who left A-B InBev in early 2011, how he felt. "I have mixed emotions," Levy said.
Armstrong "perhaps sold us a bill of goods at the time," he said. But "as a human being, I can't help but feel for the guy in terms of what he is going through right now."
Michelob Ultra's next Super Bowl appearance came in 2016, when A-B InBev secured the very first commercial slot after kickoff for an FCB Chicago ad for the brand called "Breathe."Send credit info to [email protected].