Rating the Beer Commercials

During this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, Anhsuer-Busch aired three new commercials promoting Budweiser and Bud Light. Two of those three have been getting a lot of press following the game, but for entirely different reasons.

Most pundits agree that the company’s “Lost Dog” ad won the night, especially because of its uplifting feel set against what was a depressing slate of commercials overall. I especially liked this one, but I might be partial because I had a chance to meet the Clydesdales in St. Louis a few months ago (and saw a different set at Busch Gardens in Virginia in 2009). Like the commercial reminding people to drive responsibly because their dog is waiting for them at home, this ad definitely tugged at the heart strings of America.



The commercial in a negative spotlight today is “Brewed the Hard Way,” which was a sharp departure from Budweiser’s usual marketing tactics. There were no dalmatians, no horses, no American flags and no sports stars – just a vehement defense of the beer against perceived slights from craft beer brewers and drinkers. I’ve long wondered why Budweiser never just accepted its place as the largest mass-market beer, since there isn’t much chance craft beer drinkers would ever switch to Bud anyway.


It turns out they did just that, even going so far as to insult craft beer drinkers. I was somewhat puzzled by that, since Anheuser-Busch has been slowly buying up craft beer brands in an effort to capture some of the craft beer market and its growing value. From Goose Island to Elysian Brewery, the company now owns enough craft brands that the shots at craft beer drinkers seemed out of place. But in a company as large as Anheuser-Busch, there are bound to be conflicts among the brands and the way they’re positioned in the marketplace.

Overall, I’d say I was impressed with this commercial – it wasn’t the safe route that AB is known for, and I think it will certainly appeal to the middle class drinkers who love Bud (and who agree with the ad’s assertion that craft beer drinkers are a bunch of arrogant, uppity Hipsters).


The third spot, continuing the “Up for Whatever” Bud Light promotion, had been teased during prior commercials earlier in the NFL season. An unsuspecting Bud Light drinker is given the chance to play a life-size PacMan game – a lifelong dream for many older Millennials and Gen-Xers who grew up around arcade games. A fun commercial that hit its target audience perfectly.


There was a lot of competition this year for attention, since the game was so close and the half-time show was so well-done. But even so, these spots have stood out and achieved the ultimate goal – getting people talking about the brands.


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