As you might have guessed the major beer brands turned up in for this year’s Superbowl LIV, with all six booze ads featured in the breaks coming from major breweries. In fact, the only non-beer product advertised this year was Bud Light’s Hard Seltzer (called it).
Here’s a quick rundown of the highs and lows of the day’s other big must-see event – the ad breaks. Warning to our UK readers that (as you might imagine) – what follows is a touch US-centric!
Presidente Beer: Never Left
First on the billing was Presidente Beer, owned by Cervecería Nacional Dominicana. The ad shows A-Rod or Alexander Rodriguez (he’s a baseball player) heading back to his home town in Miami Florida – but not before gripping some baseball sand in his hand and staring off into the distance. His VO states – “Some of us may have left the DR (Dominican Republic) but the DR never left us”.
Seems as if Presidente might have used all their marketing budget on the media buy and a celebrity at first glance, but upon hearing that Rodriguez is the new chairman of the brand, it makes sense. It’s still very simplistic, but a guaranteed way to appeal to fans.
Tide x Bud Light: Bud Light Now, Laundry Later
Last year Tide (laundry detergent) had David Harbour (Jim Hopper in Stranger Things) appear in what at first seemed to be a typical car/perfume/beer ad – only to reveal it was in fact an ad for Tide. Great idea, well-executed and it went down brilliantly. This year, the brand has basically done the same, but this time with a confused Charlie Day.
Charlie stumbles into other brands’ “ads” to ask when he should be doing his laundry, one ad being for Bud Light. An easy win for Bud, who get to feature their Bud Knight once more – but a low-effort and very lacklustre attempt to repeat last year’s success for Tide.
Michelob Ultra: 6 For 6-Pack
This ad showcases the brand’s new commitment to transitioning six square feet of farmland to organic with every six-pack bought. It comes with a big promise from Michelob – that “we could “change America’s farmland forever”.
Commentators have accused MIchelob of greenwashing with this ad, and that feels accurate. The total amount of farmland converted is likely to be tiny. But moreover, I’m not sure this ad would propel anyone who wouldn’t be buying a Michelob to go buy a six pack – and it feels unlikely that its current/target audience would care.
For Anheuser-Busch, this feels rather like an attempt to tick the CSR box right before its annual ‘famous people doing comedy’ ad, which – as with you’ll see with their second ad later on in the list – is exactly what it is…
Bud Light: Inside Post’s Brain
Surprisingly not the first hard seltzer to make it to the Superbowl (Anheuser-Busch’s Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer got there first last year), Bud Light showcases Post Malone (a renowned Bud Light fan) as he struggles to choose between buying Bud Light or Bud Light seltzer before remembering he’s rich and buying both.
While the brand is in its infancy it’s already skewing predominantly female in sales so it’s not surprising they’ve fronted the product with a guy in a flannel shirt at the local beer shop. The underlying message to guys being – it’s ok to like (or at least try) both.
It’s a simple message, but this one is well delivered. You’ll note in other ads in the series – the mention of the seltzer hitting the taste buds and all the other points we’re sure the strategy team pushed to feature. Classic slapstick humour, well written with Post well suited to the brand. So much so that I’m sure this won’t be his last ad for them… oh please have him be the Bud Knight all along.
Michelob Ultra: Jimmy Works It Out
In Michelob’s second outing of the night, we see John Cena getting a reluctant Jimmy Fallon to enjoy exercise in a number of different ways, finishing with the line “It’s only worth it if you enjoy it”.
That is to say, it’s drawing a parallel with its own light beer – suggesting it’s only worth drinking low calorie beer if it tastes nice.
If you think this link sounds laboured and hard work, you should see the ad.
As quite rightly mentioned from Ed Brown at YesMore “you could place any low-calorie beer brand in this and it would be the same”. Another case of getting a crowbarring a celeb and a message together, to limp effect.
Budweiser: Typical American
As a Brit living in the US, I mutter this phrase to myself a lot. “Typical American”.
But in this ad, Budweiser flips the term on its head and honestly delivers the best of the bunch this year. A nice, genuine way for a true American beer to celebrate its people and not a single mention of unifying over political differences in sight. Bliss.
A little bit over the top and massively overly sentimental, but you know, that’s typical Americans.
Coca Cola Energy: Show Up
The biggest thumbs down this year goes to Coca Cola Energy. While not an alcoholic beverage, it’s still a beverage and with an ad so bad it felt worth mentioning. Jonah Hill is supposed to meet Marty Scorsese at a party while the world waits with bated breath to see if he’ll text back. He can’t be bothered – until he drinks a Coke Energy. Blah.
After all the hubbub in the press from Scorsese telling people Marvel films aren’t cinema and that our overall viewing landscape is going to trash, he should be ashamed!
Top tip: Jonah Hill, next time Coke texts you, don’t text back.
It really felt like 2020 was a year of zero showstoppers from the beer world. If there was a trend to be seen it would be one of bland celebrity performances in the place of a great creative idea or execution.
At least this year, all the talking down to / piss-taking out of craft beer has ceased for now. Could this be an indication of mainstream beer finally understanding that the independent market isn’t going anywhere?
The even larger question hanging over all of this activity is whether once a brand has paid the mammoth media and talent fee – is there much left to go on creative? This year’s offerings would suggest that no there isn’t.
Let’s hope that 2021 sees fewer celebrities and more genuine entertainment.
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