The King Isn’t Dead: Why Bud Stole The Super Bowl Show

During and after the Super Bowl, there are about as many armchair ad analysts as there are would-be football coaches.

That’s why we try to go deeper and examine (especially when we would gather in the office on Monday morning), whose Sunday spend would help or even hurt a reputation. PR should be part of the equation for any campaign and this year, the brand that did that the best was one that wasn’t even in the game.

Let’s give credit where credit is due to Budweiser, owned by international giant InBev, which is based in Belgium. The company ran commercial spots for Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer, Michelob Ultra, something called Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer and even for its American division, Anheuser-Busch, about the joys of sharing a beer post-pandemic. Where was the flagship brand Budweiser? Basking in the glow of nearly two weeks of coverage in seemingly every newscast, news web site and talk show because it wasn’t advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in decades. For the other brands, they made commercials. For Budweiser, they made news.

Budweiser enjoyed day after day after day of attention for foregoing the game and, instead, calling attention to COVID-19 vaccinations. That brand wears both the crown and the halo. We are usually reticent to assign dollar values to PR campaigns. But it’s safe to say that the news coverage and air time generated nationally was worth at least the $5 million+ of a Super Bowl commercial.

Budweiser outmaneuvered everyone and will now reap the benefits whenever its vaccination message airs, potentially in more targeted and cost-efficient programming. Like the on-field MVP of this year’s game, you can’t count out the masters when playing Monday Morning quarterback.