Weekly Feature

Associated Press

Beer: The Real Celebrity of Super Bowl Commercials

January 27, 2009
by Christopher Coats
As important to some as what happens on the field, the annual lineup of beer ads each Super Bowl Sunday has become as much a part of championship football as “hut, hut, hike.”

Although beer commercials have followed a reasonably simple formula for success over the years, combining overweight everymen, gorgeous women, and ice-cold beer in an endless array of combinations, Super Bowl Sunday asks more of its adverts.

Not least because of the high costs of a mere 30 seconds of airtime, game day commercials are the most important of the year, because no matter who is playing you are sure to have millions of fans glued to every detail.

To really succeed, you have to bring a little something extra to the field.

Budweiser: The King of (Super Bowl) Beers

Never absent from the Super Bowl lineup, Bud and Bud Light have become staples of the championship roster. From their inaugural Bud Bowl, to their culture-infecting “Wassup” series of ads, to the their collection of burping frogs and lizards, the St. Louis beer company has become the most dependable vender of the football season.

In 2006, they took the brutality and enthusiasm one might expect from a football game and placed it in the workplace with this memorable spot about the dangers of combining Bud with office morale efforts.

Recently, the company ditched their belching amphibians in favor giving life to their iconic Clydesdales, inviting the whole barnyard to join in.

However, even the pros occasionally slip up. Compiling a collection of the worst Super Bowl commercials of all time, MSNBC found two places of Bud on their list, including an unfortunate upside down clown and the tipping point for the Bud Bowl, which withered with age.

Miller: A Witty Defense

Hardly as much of a presence on Super Bowl Sunday, Miller has occasionally gone to great measures to get out of the shadow of Bud by challenging its dominance each year. In 2007, Miller ran a spot taking Budweiser’s legacy on directly with a dig at their Clydesdales as well as the company’s new Dalmatian mascot.

Then, last year Miller followed the game up with a rapid-response spot with a Miller delivery man taking shots at all of the commercials from that year, including witty comments about the Bud ads.

This year Miller is out to prove that less is more, planning to air a 1-second spot during the game, though this may be as much a result of the economy as it is a media strategy.

Around the World

Proving that the great American game does not have to be accompanied by only American brands, Heineken bet on star power in 2005 with a spot featuring a paparazzi-wary Brad Pitt.

The Best? You Decide.

With so many commercials and so many years passed, it can be difficult to choose your favorite. Thankfully, a few kind souls have taken it upon themselves to compile years worth of Super Bowl adverts in one place for your viewing pleasure, including Spike TV’s Commercial Bowl, serving up spots old and new, and USA Today’s Ad Meter site, where the newspaper has ranked each year’s commercials according to age, sex and income.

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