Bud Light Super Bowl Commercial Aims For Sophisticated Consumers
Bud Light, the popular beer that has for years used silly ads and sometimes frat-boyish humor to stand apart from the (six)pack, is getting ready to grow up.
When the Super Bowl perennial enters the ad roster of Super Bowl LVII on February 12, it will do so with a new degree of sophistication and — shudder! — a female as one of the central characters of its commercial. In a new 30-second ad, Miles and Keleigh Teller turn the frustrating experience of being stuck on hold into a small dance party while cracking open a Bud Light.
“We are ushering in a new era for this brand,’ says Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, in a recent interview. She vows to “strip away all the loudness and the distractions.”
If any brand’s voice has boomed in advertising, it is Bud Light’s. Over the decades, this is the beer that brought consumers party dog Spuds McKenzie; quirky odes to “Real Men of Genius”; a Super Bowl ad featuring young men praying to a “magic fridge” full of the brew; Cedric the Entertainer; and the Bud Knight. Marketers behind the beverage have launched so many characters to help sell it that in 2021, Bud Light ran a Super Bowl commercial celebrating all of them.
Yet advertising — and beer drinking — is in flux. It’s no secret that even heady brands like Bud Light are competing for sipping share with hard seltzers, spirits and craft beers. And the younger consumers Heinerscheid wants to bring to Bud Light are looking for something different from the outreach it makes to them.
“Consumers young and old want a brand to stand for something,” she says, and to hear about “a unique benefit.”
She and her team took a trip to Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis archives to discover what that might be. While looking through the beer’s history, they found that one of its original sales points after it was introduced in 1982 was its easy-to-drink nature. The marketing executive felt that simple positioning would be more meaningful to modern consumers than some of the beer’s recent antics.
And she intends to drive the message home. Anheuser-Busch will increase its marketing investment behind Bud Light by five times, she says, with outreach in markets across the rest of the year. The ads will follow the formula exemplified in the Super Bowl. They will open with an example of some easy-to-recognize frustration, which “you could let ruin your day, or you could flip the script, open a couple of Bud Lights and have some fun,” she says.
Heinerscheid is in her first year as Bud Light’s top marketer, and is replacing Andy Goeler, a longtime brand ambassador who developed many of the aforementioned conceits. She enters the Super Bowl fray at a delicate time. After maintaining a sponsorship deal that made it the exclusive malt-based liquor sponsor of the Super Bowl, it had ceded those rights — so other beers can now get in the game. Rival Molson Coors has already started an early campaign in a bid to have one of its top brews gain some share of recognition from the Anheuser-Busch offerings
The new Bud Light positioning represents a bid to speak to a broader and younger crowd. “We have to bring in new drinkers. That is the name of the game,” says Heinerscheid, who is also the first female executive to oversee Bud Light’s marketing efforts. Offering a twist on traditional beer marketing might just be the way to do it. In an effort to increase the ease of drinking Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch intends to send enough fo the beer to the home cityh of the team that wins the Big Game next week. .
“The Super Bowl can often be a race of shout the loudest, going in the biggest, going in real flashy. That’s some peoples’ formula,” she says. “What has worked for us, it’s about zigging when they are zagging,” weaning the brand off the easy jokes and finding something that is more resonant and meaningful. The new ads “are telling a story you want to watch again and again, and that might be the key to standing out.”