USA: The Super Bowl – the battle of beer commercials

There are only a few hours left until one of the biggest sporting events of the year begins. The 57th Super Bowl and the match between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs will not only be followed by 72,200 fans at the expanded State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, but also by around 100 million viewers in front of the televisions and around 15 million streamers in the USA. In addition, another 30 to 50 million people worldwide will watch the game live.

And like every year, not only the sport will attract attention, but also the show and the commercials during the breaks. Traditionally, the Super Bowl is known for its beer promotions, earning it the nickname "The Beer Bowl."

With AB InBev relinquishing its exclusive alcohol advertising rights after more than 30 years, companies like Heineken and Molson Coors jumped at the chance to return to the national airwaves. “It took us less than a minute to decide,” Michelle St. Jacques, the Chief Marketing Officer of Molson Coors, was quoted by the New York Times. Her company is “the biggest beneficiary” of A-B’s abandonment of its exclusivity rights, according to The Wall Street Journal.

And her colleague Jonnie Cahill, the chief marketing officer at Heineken, agrees: “We’re delighted to be able to access the Super Bowl.”

But Molson Coors, the company behind brands like Coors Light and Miller Lite, did not release their commercials in the weeks leading up to the game but opted for a hybrid approach, keeping the premise under wraps until the ad airs, while simultaneously giving legal-age drinkers a chance to participate in the concept.

For weeks, Molson Coors has touted "The High Stakes Beer Ad" as a showdown between heavy hitters Coors Light and Miller Lite, asking fans to make their picks as to which brand will star in the spot, which has remained shrouded in mystery.

While the two brands are encouraging fans to pick how the ad will shake out for a chance to win a share of USD 500,000, little else is known about the premise of the spot. And that, experts say, has paid off for Molson Coors, building buzz and adding intrigue ever since the campaign launched last month. The strategy has netted more than 1,300 media stories and 5 billion consumer impressions, according to data compiled for Molson Coors.

“During the game, it is very hard to break through the clutter,” Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University, told the Chicago Tribune. “But ahead of time, if you’ve got something interesting, you can generate a lot of interest before the game even starts.”

What’s more, 73% of fans who plan on tuning in say advertisers shouldn’t release their spots ahead of the game, a Harris Poll survey found.

“(The game) is not only attracting an audience that wants to watch the game, but the commercials, as well,” says Greg Gurfen, an advertising instructor at Western Michigan University. “They might be paying more attention to the advertising that’s coming up. It could benefit the advertiser because (viewers) are getting that big surprise, and people like that.”


Plus, he says, “If brands release their spots ahead of time, you almost get a wear-out effect for those spots” as they lose their novelty.

Keeping the ad under wraps also means people have a stake in tuning in when it finally airs, says Sofia Colucci, vice president of marketing for Miller brands: “So many brands have already shown their hand and put their ads out there. What’s unique about Molson Coors’ ad is that there’s this anticipation that’s built up over time. There’s $500,000 at stake! That’s creating a lot of excitement.”


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