Here's why this year's Super Bowl beer ads go beyond Bud

NEW YORK (AP) — A bevy of booze brands will be in the Super Bowl ad lineup this year, now that Anheuser-Busch has ended its exclusive advertising sponsorship after more than 30 years.

In addition to celebrities hawking Budweiser and Michelob Ultra, viewers will see some famous folks touting the qualities of Heineken and Coors, and even suggesting they drink cognac or whiskey — responsibly, of course.

Anheuser-Busch, parent of the Bud, Ultra and Busch beer brands, said in June it would end the exclusivity deal it first struck in 1989. The company is still a big presence at NFL games, sponsoring all major NFL moments during the offseason, such as the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

And the St. Louis, Missouri beverage giant is still the largest alcohol advertiser during the game, with three minutes of national airtime and a 30-second regional Budweiser spot.

On A-B's roster this year: A Bud Light ad shows actor Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh dancing to on-hold music. A regional Budweiser ad focuses on people connecting with a six-pack. A Michelob Ultra ad spotlights actor Brian Cox and tennis star Serena Williams at a new members day at the Bushwood Country Club, the golf club in “Caddyshack.” And a Busch Light ad shows singer Sarah McLachlan sharing a tent with a wolf spoofing her well-known animal-advocacy ad.

The other alcohol brands running ads include beer brands Heineken and Molson Coors and liquor brands Remy Martin and Crown Royal, all eager to make their mark on advertising's largest stage.

Brands pay premium dollars to advertise during the gridiron classic, which draws about 100 million viewers each year. This year, most 30-second ad blocks sold for between $6 million and $7 million — for the ad space alone. Companies spend millions more to create the ads themselves and book celebrity sponsors.

Heineken is promoting its alcohol-free beer Heineken 0.0 with an ad that's part of its larger partnership with Marvel — the ad, under wraps until the game, will feature actor Paul Rudd as his Marvel character “Ant Man.”

“We were really excited to hear that category opened up, and almost immediately we thought, you know, what a great way to really blow out Heineken 0.0 momentum and share that brand and that product with the wider market,” said Heineken chief marketing officer Jonnie Cahill in an interview with the AP.

Beer sales have held steady in the U.S., but the beer category has been losing market share to other types of alcoholic drinks, said Bart Watson, chief economist for trade group Brewers Association.

Beer's share in the alcohol market had dropped from 58% in 2000 to about 46% in 2022, while other alcoholic beverages, particularly spirits, have gained share. But overall beer barrel shipments are still up during the same time frame because the overall category has grown, according to figures tallied by the Beer Institute and Brewers Association.

For Anheuser-Busch, the decision to end its Super Bowl exclusivity is likely about putting marketing dollars elsewhere, Watson said.

“You have a new generation that consumes alcohol differently and beer differently. (For A-B), to put all their eggs in this basket isn’t getting the return that maybe it once did.”

Molson Coors is also keeping its ad for the big game under wraps. But it is attempting to make a splash as a first-time national advertiser by letting fans bet on what the ad will have in it — such as whether the game will feature its Coors Light or Miller Lite brand — via betting site DraftKings.

Other alcohol ads have enlisted celebrities: Diageo's ad for its Crown Royal whisky will feature musician Dave Grohl. Rémy Cointreau is also using Serena Williams, in an ad that spotlights its Rémy Martin cognac.

Not all alcohol makers are jumping to the national stage. Boston Beer Co. is sticking to a regional spot for its Samuel Adams beer — the third year it has run a regional ad. The ad shows Bostonians imagining what would happen if everyone in the city was nice and polite.

“Samuel Adams is a relatively small player in the beer category, so a regional approach enables us to be part of the Super Bowl conversation without having to pay the huge price tag of a national ad," said Lesya Lysyj, chief marketing officer. A cut of the ad will run nationally beginning the week after the Super Bowl, she added.

Aside from alcohol, big brands including Pepsi Zero Sugar, Doritos, M&Ms, Google, Downy and Kia will all be advertising during Super Bowl LVII, which airs Sunday on Fox.

 

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