Angered by the Budweiser Super Bowl ad? You’re missing the point…

Posted by on Feb 6, 2015 in American Beer | 12 Comments

Look, let’s not all get – as they would say – our panties in a wad. I’ve watched AB-InBev’s ‘anti-craft beer’ advert five times now, and it’s made me…laugh, five times. There’s simply no point in hammering out angry diatribes against it, about what it says when it implies craft beer drinkers are moustachioed dweebs sharing tasting flights of pumpkin peach ale.

This is not a statement that big beer is worried about craft beer any more than Kim Kardashian’s plea to use up the full extent of your data allowance was altruistic. Superbowl adverts have one over-riding aim – that they are funny. This then makes people talk the next day, gets them noticed, etc. Do you seriously think nobody at AB-InBev head office realised one of their recently-acquired breweries actually makes a pumpkin peach ale?

The Budweiser advert is in the same grand American style that parodies the intelligent at every opportunity, that leads to characters in TV series like Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, New Girl and the like. Yes – I am actually about to write these words – the Budweiser Super Bowl Ad was satire.

This is the Superbowl – it is what it is. I’ve watched every one since 1986. It’s for fans (and players) like Gronk here, celebrating the Patriots win in style (and with a Busch Light, ironically, brewed by…)

According to NBC, the average cost of a thirty second advert during last weekend’s big game was $4.5m – but companies like Ab-InBev that took out multiple spots would have got some kind of deal, rather than forking out multiples of $9m, $13.5m, $18m or whatever. The exact amount each advertiser pays as part of these deals is not disclosed, but the network always release the ‘price per 30secs’ figure as it has a cachet – with three sharing the rights to the Super Bowl on an annual rotation basis, announcing the $4.5m figure is NBC sticking two fingers of importance up at CBS and Fox.

AB-InBev didn’t only use Budweiser to deliberately anger the hipsterati – that particular ad was down the running order, literally, when compared to their more prevalent Bud ad, featuring the latest adventure of the puppy and the Clydesdales (I need to take a minute, there’s, er, something in my eye). And even that wasn’t their biggest spend of the evening, as they took out ninety seconds to advertise Bud Light in a way that has 80’s gamers up in arms, just as much as the craft beer fans. Except it hasn’t.

If you total up the spots for Budweiser and Bud Light, then AB-InBev – who had also acquired sole beer sponsorship rights for the event – totalled 210 seconds of advertising. With NBC’s bulk-buy discount, they may not have paid the full whack of $31.5m, but in buying up that much TV space they clearly spent a staggering amount. And you know what? If you want something to focus your craft beer ire on – then focus it on that. Forget about the fact that an Ad agency picked on guys sharing thirds, and think about the bigger picture, which is this:

Ab-InBev committed this heinous grievance against the beer geek generation whilst dropping the amount of loose change that could pay for another craft brewery. Their 2015 Super Bowl spend would have been somewhere between the $24m they paid for Blue Point Brewing and the $38.8m they put up for Goose Island. Only, it was an equivalent sum for less than four minutes of advertising. If they really are flustered by the craft beer upstarts, and are feeling the heat of all those pumpkin peach ales, then once they really open the warchest, you might have genuine concerns to be angered over.


  1. Pivní Filosof
    February 6, 2015

    This must be the comment on this whole issue I’ve read so far. It does put a thing or two into perspective. It’s amazing how many people believe that macro breweries are afraid of “Craft”.

  2. Richard
    February 6, 2015

    I would love to have a go on the lifesize Pac-Man, though

  3. Colin
    February 6, 2015

    There’s nothing wrong with this ad at all. If people want to not be fussed by their beer and drink macro – then let them.

    I’ll stick to craft regardless of any advert.

    But you know what… When the good beer runs out at midnight – I’ll drink some macro.

    I don’t like Bud at all, but sometimes a refreshing lager on a hot day wins the battle for taste… *hides*

  4. Damien
    February 6, 2015

    I can’t stand Crapweiser, but having just watched the ad for the first time on this page, I couldn’t help but have a chuckle to myself at the stereotypes. The reason certain people are up in arms over this is because they recognise themselves in those stereotypes. The rest of us real beer drinkers just chuckle and get on with getting another beer 🙂

  5. Cantsay
    February 6, 2015

    As someone in the ad industry, I can tell you with certainty that this was not meant as satire. Also, your point about all super bowl ads being funny just isn’t the case anymore. Look at Toyota, Nissan, Dove Men+Care, Nationwide, etc. They weren’t going for comedy at all…

  6. Richard
    February 6, 2015

    Oh sure, there are exceptions – particularly that Nationwide one. Maybe funny was too much of a generalisation, but the base requirement for a Super Bowl ad is for it to be talked about, surely?

  7. Carsmilesteve
    February 6, 2015

    i see your point (particularly about the spend!) but interestingly my wife, who only drinks wine, was really annoyed by it, even though she points and laughs at me and my lot doing exactly what the dweebs in the advert are doing.

    Also my mate in market research said he’d done some feedback on the Super Bowl ads and this one came out worst of pretty much all of them…

  8. Birstallblue
    February 6, 2015

    Rubbish Beer, Sponsors an equally Rubbish Sport, does anyone this side of the Atlantic, really care anyway!

  9. lonndoggie
    February 6, 2015

    Yes, it was satire. Definition, provided by my friend Google:

    “The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
    synonyms: mockery, ridicule, derision, scorn, caricature.”

    Sounds about right.

    And I laughed, and was kind of amazed, really, that they felt the need to do this. But indeed they did.

    Who this was aimed at, of course, was their current “golden suds”-swilling base, to reassure them that they are OK–that even though they keep hearing about this crafty beer stuff, that they can just ignore it and stay the course, lest they turn into the kind of nerdy cretins portrayed.

    A cousin of mine, years ago and a young man then, came for a visit; we went out to dinner. He asked the waiter “Do you have any Budweiser products?” This was in the days when anything craft-like was hard to find, mind you, but still. Brand loyalty! I don’t know what he drinks these days, but the him of then would’ve enjoyed that ad, and be steadfastly convinced that he was absolutely on the right team.

  10. Jim
    February 7, 2015

    Would never have known this existed if you hadn’t posted this. We have to be careful not to get carried away, as mega-companies are not our friends. Look at YouTube for the parody of the ad by Ninkasi Brewing, “Brewed the easy way?”, now that is funny.

  11. Tony B
    February 13, 2015

    Make what you will of the ad, its done what every marketing team in the world would dream of. It has created watercooler chat for everyone, the products and company being talked about whether in a positive or negative light and it has continued for nearly two weeks.

    I guess it all comes down to there is no such thing as bad publicity.

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