By Suzanne Vranica
The maker of Sam Adams beer is hijacking Budweiser's iconic
Clydesdales ad campaign, in an attempt to steal some attention
during the publicity blitz that typically surrounds the Super
The commercial won't be visible to most people watching the game
on Feb. 7: Boston Beer Co. is only paying for the ad to air in New
York and Boston, allowing it to sidestep a decadeslong exclusivity
deal between television networks and Budweiser's parent, as well as
saving millions of dollars in the process.
Other advertisers, including pharmaceutical company
GlaxoSmithKline PLC, are also making a play for Super Bowl
attention without airing national ads during the game -- an
increasingly popular approach known as ambush marketing.
While approaches vary, the mission is simple: Craft a stunt
creative enough that it can attract attention on social and
traditional media in the weeks leading up to the game.
Boston Beer, which also makes the hard seltzer Truly, is
spending $770,000 to air its ad in New York and Boston, a fraction
of the roughly $5.6 million it costs for 30 seconds of airtime
during the national broadcast of the game on ViacomCBS Inc.'s
The ad, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, features
horses that are meant to mimic Budweiser's iconic Clydesdales. It
will promote Sam Adams Wicked Hazy IPA.
"You see the Clydesdales and you immediately think Super Bowl
without even saying the word," said Jeff Goodby, co-founder of
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
It is unclear whether the horses will appear in any of
Anheuser-Busch InBev's ads this year. On Monday, the world's
largest brewer said it won't devote a Super Bowl commercial to its
flagship Budweiser beer brand this year for the first time since
1983, pledging to redirect spending for the airtime to marketing
campaigns related to Covid-19 vaccinations instead.
The company, which has been the exclusive beer advertiser during
the national broadcast of the Super Bowl since 1975, will still
have its usual large presence during the game, planning national
commercials for some of its other brands, including Bud Light and
Michelob Ultra, as well as for Anheuser-Busch itself. The company
declined to say whether the Clydesdales would be featured in the
A perennial fan favorite on Super Bowl Sunday, the horses made
their big-game debut in 1975 and have appeared in more than 40
Super Bowl commercials over the years. One popular spot that aired
in 1996 showed the horses playing a game of football.
In the Boston Beer spot that will feature them, the Sam Adams ad
character "Your Cousin From Boston" pulls the pin from a carriage
hitch, sending a team of galloping Clydesdales stampeding through a
quaint New England town. "Oops, I did not see that coming," the
character says in his heavy Bostonian accent.
Boston Beer will also run social-media, search and online video
ads that tease the content of its game-day spot. The company said
it is spending roughly $2.5 million on its entire Super Bowl
The Glaxo heartburn reliever Tums will bypass TV ads altogether
to more narrowly target younger audiences with its Super Bowl push.
Replicating a strategy that paid off last year, it will run a
sweepstakes on Twitter during the game that gives viewers the
chance to play an interactive bingo game. Bingo cards will include
heartburn-causing plays, such as those that involve a fumble or
pass interference. The company will drive awareness of its ad
effort by running social-media ads and online video ads.
Amy Sharon, brand director for Glaxo's heartburn portfolio, said
its campaign will cost less than a fourth of what a Super Bowl TV
ad costs this year.
Ambush marketing surrounding the Super Bowl has continued to
increase as ad prices for the game have continued to rise. The
price for ad time this year is up 28% from 2016, according to
estimates from ad-tracker Kantar Media.
Reaping the benefits of Super Bowl buzz without buying a
national ad isn't easy. Not only is it tough to find a creative
idea that will tie into the hype, but the National Football League
prohibits non-Super Bowl advertisers from using the words "Super
Bowl" or the NFL logo in their ads.
To get around the rules, marketers often use generic
football-themed images and words such as "big game." Boston Beer
will use "big game" in some of its social-media efforts instead of
the phrase "Super Bowl."
Over the years some brands have been successful with ambushing
the Super Bowl.
A stunt for Skittles candy in 2018 involved crafting a Super
Bowl ad featuring actor David Schwimmer. The catch: The ad didn't
run as part of the game's broadcast. It was only shown to a single
Facebook user, and viewers were able to watch his reaction as he
screened the ad on the social-media platform. The campaign
generated 450 media mentions, including a three-minute segment on
ABC's "Good Morning America," according to Skittles maker Mars
One of the most noteworthy ambush campaigns was done in 2014 by
Newcastle Brown Ale. The brewer ran a series of online video ads
that featured actress Anna Kendrick using foul language to rant
about how the brewer enlisted her to star in a Super Bowl ad that
the company didn't actually pay to air during the game. The videos
garnered millions of online views and generated more than 600 media
In the videos, Ms. Kendrick poked fun at the fact that the NFL
keeps tight controls on trademarks such as "Super Bowl" by
attempting to bleep out Ms. Kendrick every time she mentions the
word "Super Bowl."
Write to Suzanne Vranica at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 26, 2021 09:14 ET (14:14 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.