Budweiser is committed to advertising on football’s biggest stage, but the brand is making a conscious shift from “pure entertainment to more purposeful messaging,” according to a company marketing executive, Ricardo Marques.
Celebrities such as Rihanna and Amy Schumer have already announced commercial boycotts for February’s Super Bowl, citing “deep inequality and endless racism” in the National Football League. Marques, AB InBev’s group vice president of marketing core and value brands, acknowledged the uneasiness surrounding the league, but said Budweiser will continue its tradition of advertising during the game.
“We have a captive audience of people that would be truly disappointed if they don't see this brand show up," he told The Drum. "It's a rare position to be in where your audience is waiting for your brand to show up on a TV broadcast.
"We want to continue to participate in that."
While Budweiser is a Super Bowl mainstay, Marques explained the brand is focusing its content around positive messaging and promoting company initiatives instead of pure entertainment.
“You can go back to the time when we aired the Adolphus Busch spot,” Marques said, referring to the Super Bowl 2017 commercial telling the immigrant story of Anheuser-Busch. “That was met with criticism by some, applauded by others, but at the time we believed it was true to our story as a brand … and we believed that the Super Bowl was definitely the right stage to put it out.
"We'll continue to do that going forward.”
Advertising during the Super Bowl today puts brands under a microscope. Besides Budweiser, brands such as Audi and 84 Lumber have been criticized for making hypocritical and politically controversial ads, respectively.
A 30-second spot during last year’s Super Bowl, aired on NBC, reportedly costed advertisers $5m. This year’s game will be presented on CBS.
Even with the current state of the NFL, politics and the cost of advertising during the Super Bowl, Marques sees the game as a way for Budweiser to participate in and celebrate American culture.
“[The Super Bowl] is a moment where families and friends get together to put away their day-to-day worries and enjoy just a good time watching the game, enjoying that moment. We believe it makes sense for us to be part of that and to honor the legacy,” said Marques.