Why Budweiser Is The King Of Super Bowl Advertisers

What is the beer brand’s Super Bowl secret? Here’s what mar­keters need to know to cre­ate Bud­weis­er-like appeal for the Super Bowl.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Brew­ing com­pa­ny Anheuser-Busch is a super­pow­er Super Bowl adver­tis­er this year with five spots. But that’s no sur­prise. Its beer brand Bud­weis­er specif­i­cal­ly is per­haps the most pow­er­ful and mem­o­rable Super Bowl adver­tis­er of all time. But why exact­ly?

A Walk Down Super Bowl Memory Lane

Bud­weis­er is the brand behind the infa­mous pup­py that topped Ad Meter’s rank­ings in back-to-back Super Bowls in 2014 and 2015. But it’s also the adver­tis­er that pro­pelled “Whas­sup?” into the Amer­i­can lex­i­con in 2000 and thrust a trio of frogs to world­wide star­dom. In fact, Bud­weis­er has five spots, which also include its 9/11 trib­ute, Respect, and its mil­i­tary thank-you, Applause, in Ad Age’s Super Bowl Top 50 Count­down. In oth­er words, Bud­weis­er sin­gle-hand­ed­ly accounts for 10 per­cent of the top Super Bowl ads of all time. That’s no small feat.

Widespread Acclaim

What’s more, Bud­weis­er was the most pop­u­lar brand in Momentology’s sur­vey of 50 mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als’ favorite Super Bowl ads of all time – account­ing for 30 per­cent of the respons­es. In addi­tion, a recent study from inter­ac­tive tele­vi­sion ser­vice TiVo and cus­tomer intel­li­gence plat­form Vision Crit­i­cal found Pup­py Love to be the #1 Super Bowl spot of the last 50 years. And, once again, Bud­weis­er was the most pop­u­lar brand on the list with four ads in the top 10. Fur­ther, the study not­ed emo­tion­al ads with ani­mals and chil­dren are most pop­u­lar across demo­graph­ics over­all.

A Successful Formula

Bud­weis­er cer­tain­ly hasn’t been shy about tap­ping into the appeal of ani­mals. Even 30 years ago, Bud­weis­er was air­ing Super Bowl spots that paired dogs and Clydes­dales – a theme it has revis­it­ed time and again. And, in 2009, its Cir­cus spot with a horse love sto­ry not even a cal­lous ring­mas­ter can thwart, touched on themes sim­i­lar to those found five years lat­er in Pup­py Love.

In short, if there’s a win­ning for­mu­la for Bud­weis­er in the Super Bowl, it seems to be: Mon­ey + Ani­mals + Patri­o­tism. But if it was that sim­ple, why aren’t more adver­tis­ers able to repli­cate Budweiser’s suc­cess? Mar­keters, take note: This is what you need to know to cre­ate Bud­weis­er-like appeal in the Super Bowl:

1. TiVo was Right: Emotion & Animals

For his part, Duane For­rester, vice pres­i­dent of organ­ic search oper­a­tions at mar­ket­ing and SEO firm Bruce Clay, calls Budweiser’s Super Bowl ads “emo­tion­al­ly attach­ing moments” in adver­tis­ing. “Let’s look at the 2015 ad here. Cute pup­py. Tough world out there. Dan­ger. Courage. Loy­al­ty. Fam­i­ly. Sup­port. All con­cepts that shine clear­ly through­out the adver­tise­ment,” For­rester said. “Yeah, every­one knows the hors­es haul the famous trail­er full of suds. But this ad isn’t about beer. It’s about us, the watch­ers, and what mat­ters to us. The ad attach­es the brand to con­cepts we hold dear, would lay down our lives for. It’s a clas­sic sto­ry of what’s pos­si­ble when you don’t give up and get a lit­tle help from your friends.”

In addi­tion, For­rester said “it helps more than a lit­tle bit” that view­ers have a ten­den­cy to anthro­po­mor­phize human feel­ings on ani­mals and that Amer­i­can con­sumers cer­tain­ly have soft spots in their hearts for pets.

2. Consistency

Accord­ing to a Bud­weis­er rep, the brand has been an in-game adver­tis­er since 1975. “How many Super Bowls has Bud­weis­er missed over the last 30 years?” asks Ryan Berman, chief cre­ative offi­cer at com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny the i.d.e.a. Brand. “We can’t say this about many oth­er brands. Whether it was the humor of the frogs or the cur­rent nos­tal­gia plat­form of the Clydes­dales, most of us think of Bud­weis­er and the Super Bowl as syn­ony­mous. We’re not just judg­ing them on the mer­it of one 60-sec­ond ad: it’s the full body of work over three decades – cap­i­tal­iz­ing on aggre­gat­ed equi­ty – that adds up. It’s the clos­est thing we’ve got to a very long movie sequel we actu­al­ly want to see.” Fur­ther, Bruce Clark, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness at North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, notes one con­se­quence of Budweiser’s longevi­ty is that the brand owns the con­cept of Clydes­dales in con­sumers’ minds. “As a base­line, they can almost nev­er go wrong with a Clydes­dale ad, espe­cial­ly for old­er con­sumers,” Clark said. In addi­tion, Bud­weis­er has deliv­ered on humor for the every­man, such as in Whas­sup and Frogs, and has also linked its brand to the game itself in Bud Bowls, Clark added. “I can’t think of anoth­er adver­tis­er that has done this so well for so long,” Clark said. “There is a reser­voir of good will and expec­ta­tion around Bud­weis­er ads in the Super Bowl that almost makes them part of the Super Bowl expe­ri­ence itself.” Fur­ther, con­sis­ten­cy has also enabled Bud­weis­er to build a brand syn­ony­mous with cer­tain emo­tions and to rein­force its desired brand cues, said Josh Berg­er, vice pres­i­dent at mar­ket­ing con­sult­ing and ana­lyt­ics firm Phoenix Mar­ket­ing Inter­na­tion­al. “The mes­sage is part of who the brand is, what it stands for and the mes­sage is authen­tic to con­sumers,” he said. “This brand cue is so strong that Bud­weis­er can spend the oth­er 51 weeks of the year with oth­er brand mes­sages like craft [beer] and con­certs – but con­sumers know they can still come back on Super Bowl Sun­day and see the next chap­ter in the Clydes­dale sto­ry.”

3. Preparation

One mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­al who has worked on pre­vi­ous Bud­weis­er Super Bowl cam­paigns, John Imme­soete, who is now chief cre­ative offi­cer at mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny Epsilon, says Bud­weis­er deserves the title of Great­est Super Bowl Adver­tis­er of all Time because it is the most focused on strate­gi­cal­ly attack­ing the assign­ment. Bud sets a goal – win­ning the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter Poll – and con­ducts all its resources against it. Agen­cies ana­lyze what wins and devel­op many ads toward crack­ing the poll, he said. “Bud shoots way more ads than it airs,” Imme­soete said. “It tests them in groups around the coun­try that close­ly mim­ic the Ad Meter room and runs those ads that score the high­est. The only thing left to chance is what the com­pe­ti­tion, who they can’t con­trol, bring to the table.” In oth­er words, Bud­weis­er estab­lish­es a clear goal and does all it can to deliv­er on that sin­gu­lar goal. “By doing so, they have few­er fail­ures and a col­lec­tive body of work that makes them the great­est Super Bowl adver­tis­er ever,” he said. “Smart plan­ning com­bined with great cre­ative resources and plen­ty of them. It’s no acci­dent.”

4. Quality

Indeed, even though Bud­weis­er may not always cre­ate the per­fect Super Bowl ad with each attempt, Gary J. Nix, chief strat­e­gy offi­cer at brand­ing agency bdot, says it has cre­at­ed many qual­i­ty ads by this point – and ads that have stood the test of time at that. And no adver­tis­er could reach this point with­out a strong body of qual­i­ty con­tent.

5. Relevance

In addi­tion, Nix says Bud­weis­er also ben­e­fits because the very prod­uct it makes is the per­fect match for foot­ball, which fur­ther enhances its cred­i­bil­i­ty as an anchor spon­sor.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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