Busch Light raises its glass to Kenny G in ‘smoothest ad in Super Bowl history’
Following a year of record growth, Busch Light will be appearing in the Super Bowl with Grammy-winning saxophone legend Kenny G. The new ad gives a nod to Busch’s marketing origins.
Nothing says “smooth” like a killer saxophone solo, and very few people can provide smooth jazz like Kenny G. That’s why Busch Light beer has partnered with the sax master himself for a big ad during the Big Game. The spot superimposes his characteristically sultry and ethereal tunes over the brand’s traditional brand imagery: idyllic scenes of mountain wilderness. The new ad arrives after a year of historic sales for Busch.
The ad opens with two friends, garbed in hiking clothes, sitting beside a pristine-looking alpine lake. One of them hands a can of Busch Light to the other and offers a dubious claim: “you know, when you crack open a Busch Light, the mountains start singing.” With understandable skepticism showing on his face, the other hiker cracks open the can and is amazed by the appearance of an enormous, hologram-like image of a bearded man — who could’ve been taken directly off the set of “Duck Dynasty” — behind the peaks girding the lake. The giant bearded apparition breaks into a comically over-the-top song, which comes off as a kind of parody of Willie Nelson, about the majesty of the mountains and, of course, Busch Light.
The giant is soon joined by three other towering figures, each of them gazing down at the two hikers like a pantheon of gods. The song turns into a quartet: “Head for the mountains, the mountains of Busch…” After the chorus, one of the figures looks into the vague distance and yells: “Hit it, giant Kenny G!” That’s when we see the curly-haired, immaculately dressed saxophone virtuoso, also scaled-up to god-like proportions and playing one of his trademark solos above a horizon line of jagged and snow-covered peaks. All six spectators — both mortal and god-like — stare in awe at spectacle of Kenny G. “It’s so smooth,” one of the hikers remarks.
An interesting footnote: the song used in the new ad — called "Head for the Mountains" — originally accompanied a Busch ad campaign that aired more than 40 years ago. That campaign also included mountainous landscapes similar to that which is the backdrop of the new ad, and helped solidify Busch’s branding as a beer that’s “best enjoyed in the great outdoors.”
“More than 40 years ago, ‘it’s cold and it’s smooth, and it’s waiting for you’ launched Busch Light’s jingle into the hearts and minds of beer fans,” said Daniel Blake, group vice president, Budweiser & Value at Anheuser-Busch. “And when the time came to revive that iconic jingle, there was only one person smooth enough for the job, American jazz saxophonist, and one of the best-selling artists of all time, Kenny G. We can’t wait for Busch Light fans to see their favorite beer show up on one of the biggest days in sports.”
Busch Light is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which celebrates its 170th birthday this year. With over 400 brands in its portfolio — including industry giants like Budweiser, Busch, Corona, and Stella Artois — it is the largest beer manufacturing company in the world.
Busch Light has been on a roll lately, according to David Steinman, vice president and executive director at Beer Marketer’s Insights. “Busch Light is outperforming every single low-end brand,” Steinman says. “AB is keeping Busch Light high on its priority list.”
Kenny G has been a familiar face throughout pop culture for many years. Now aged 65, he has won one Grammy (and has been nominated for 17 others) and was the subject of a documentary released on HBO in December called “Music Box: Listening to Kenny G.” Steinman says the humorous campaign is a nice update to this classic brand. “Bringing a celebrity like Kenny G is a little different, it's a little more present.”