USA: Budweiser is forgoing Super Bowl ads

For the first time in 37 year, Budweiser will not feature a commercial during SuperBowl. Instead, AB InBev the company behind the brand said it would donate portions of its advertising budget this year to the Ad Council, a nonprofit marketing group at the helm of a USD 50 million ad blitz to fight coronavirus vaccine skepticism. The company has produced a 90-second online vaccination ad, titled Bigger Picture which will be featured prominently during the game instead of conventional ads for the brand.

Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice president of marketing, said the brand is still calculating how much it will spend on vaccine awareness. But she said it will be a “multi-million dollar” commitment that includes donating airtime throughout this year for the nonprofit the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative.

However, the good deed is diminished by the fact that AB InBev has still booked four minutes of advertising during the game for promoting its other brands including Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. Since 30 seconds during the Feb. 7 broadcast on CBS are estimated to cost USD 5.5 million, AB InBev is likely to spend about USD 40-45 million on advertising during the game for these brands only.

Other companies like Coca Cola, Hyundai and Audi have completely canceled their advertising for the Super Bowl this year. Pepsi will also forego traditional advertising but will instead focus on its sponsorship of the halftime show.

“Budweiser’s decision to forgo advertising and to support vaccine awareness during the high-profile Super Bowl games may come as a surprise, especially after a run of 37 years; but it will undoubtedly create goodwill towards the company, which has suffered during the pandemic,” says Arian Bassari, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.

 GlobalData surveys show that two in four (37%) US consumers actively want to see news about initiatives adopted by brands during the pandemic1, illustrating that a large proportion of US consumers follow brand activity closely.

“The ongoing closure of foodservice, bars and hotels in the US has had a significant negative impact on beer consumption in the country, and Budweiser has certainly felt the effects of the virus. Not running an ad might seem counterintuitive, given the loss of revenue, but Budweiser clearly sees the bigger picture – as long as the virus continues, the market will continue to suffer. The new regime also has a clear agenda to get the country vaccinated as soon as possible, and big brands will benefit from attaching themselves to what is very much the main focus of the government.

“GlobalData’s COVID-19 recovery survey shows that nearly one third (30%) of US consumers are consuming more beer since the outbreak of the pandemic*. However, this is predominantly at-home consumption, and the loss in consumption in the foodservice channels is more significant.

“The same survey notes that one in four (24%) of US consumers are buying alcoholic products at the lower end of the price range or have stopped buying them altogether as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic*. As the pandemic ravages the economy and Americans seek more support from the newly elected government, price consciousness is increasingly becoming the main factor determining consumption and purchasing. Clearly, alcoholic drinks, including beer, are less important now for price-sensitive groups than they were before the pandemic.”

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