ST. LOUIS – During this year's Super Bowl, Anheuser-Busch will once again seek to shine a spotlight on its flagship brands Bud Light and Budweiser and attract millennials the brewer believes are critical to selling more beer.
The brewer will once again tug on viewers' heartstrings by pairing Budweiser Clydesdales and a puppy. That combination gave A-B the top spot last year in USA Today's Ad Meter, and a new 60-second ad called "Lost Dog" set to air during the Super Bowl this year will tell an emotional story of a puppy that has lost its way, said Budweiser vice president Brian Perkins.
New this year is a throwback to the 1980s — a Bud Light ad with a life-size, interactive Pac Man arcade game.
A-B is buying 3 ½ minutes of airtime for during Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, the brewer's marketing team told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an overview of its Super Bowl plans. Last year, A-B initially said it would buy that amount, but later increased its purchase to four minutes to expand a Budweiser ad that chronicled a soldier's homecoming. Bud Light is the official beer sponsor of the NFL and is the Super Bowl's only beer advertiser.
A-B, the game's largest ad buyer over the past decade, is running three 60-second ads this year, and may expand one ad to 90 seconds or air another Budweiser or Bud Light spot.
A 30-second spot during the NFL game in suburban Phoenix that will be broadcast on NBC costs up to $4.5 million. Last year's Super Bowl had a record 112.2 million viewers, making it the most watched TV program in history, according to Nielsen.
A-B is focusing its Super Bowl marketing on attracting millennials age 21 to 27 by taking a digital-first approach, said A-B's vice president of U.S. marketing Jorn Socquet.
The brewer plans to release sneak peeks of some of its Super Bowl ads online in the days leading up to the game. For the first time, A-B also will have teams of copywriters, marketing and other staff at four social media command rooms — in St. Louis, Phoenix, New York and Palo Alto, Calif. A-B is moving its top sales and marketing staff, including Socquet, to a newly formed U.S. commercial strategy office in New York this year.
"We're going very hard after millennials," Socquet said. "We have to win with these consumers and we know with the Super Bowl, we have their undivided attention."
A-B sees the Super Bowl as an opportunity to reach the younger demographic amid declining sales for Bud Light and Budweiser in the United States. Displaced as the country's top-selling beer in 2001, Budweiser sales volumes declined in the U.S. for the past 25 years, and it's currently the third best-selling beer behind Bud Light and Coors Light.
Bud Light, the country's top-selling beer brand, will focus its Super Bowl marketing on its "The perfect beer for whatever happens" campaign that debuted during last year's Super Bowl.
A 60-second Bud Light ad created by ad agency BBDO called "Coin" will show a Bud Light fan experiencing an unforgettable night, with the 1980s arcade game Pac Man playing a central role.
Bud Light is creating a "360-degree" marketing campaign that goes beyond the Super Bowl ads and includes events where consumers can interact with the brand.