One of the event’s mainstay sponsors isn’t feeling very cheery this year.
The Super Bowl has always been a time for rampant, unapologetic commercialism, debatably even more than football (not that I’m complaining, mind you). One of those most consistent sponsors of the event is Budweiser beer, who has given us multiple classic Super Bowl commercials over the years such as the Budweiser frogs and the aliens screaming “whazzup,” not to mention the traditional parading of the Budweiser Clydesdales. However, given the pervading atmosphere of the past year, anyone would find it difficult to make cheery, jokey ads for a major sporting event. It seems even the mad lads at Budweiser aren’t feeling very peppy this year.
Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser’s parent company, announced today that for the first time since 1983, they will not be spending money on a Budweiser ad for the Super Bowl. Instead, the money that was previously earmarked for the ad will be donated to COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Anheuser-Busch will still be paying for ad space for some of its other brands, like Bud Light, but without the head honcho present, it feels a bit hollow.
Some big brands are dialing back their Super Bowl advertising, while others are sitting out the game altogether. It's one more way Super Bowl LV will look very different from previous years. https://t.co/sP1naKg9mg
— AP Business News (@APBusiness) January 25, 2021
Anheuser-Busch isn’t the only company to back out of Super Bowl advertising this year. PepsiCo will not be running any kind of Pepsi ad this time, though they’ll still be running ads for Frito-Lay products and Mountain Dew, and other prolific brands like Audi and Coke won’t be advertising anything. Considering Super Bowl ads tend to be very large-scale productions, it’s been theorized that the brands are backing out in the interest of staffer safety, though the overall vibe at the moment probably isn’t helping.
“We have a pandemic that is casting a pall over just about everything,” said Paul Argenti, Dartmouth College professor of corporate communication. “It’s hard to feel the exuberance and excitement people normally would.”
“I think the advertisers are correctly picking up on this being a riskier year for the Super Bowl,” said Charles Taylor, marketing professor at Villanova University. “With COVID and economic uncertainty, people aren’t necessarily in the best mood to begin with. There’s a risk associated with messages that are potentially too light. … At the same time, there’s risk associated with doing anything too somber.”