Budweiser isn't going to have a television spot during this year's Big Game. Monday morning, Anheuser-Busch announced it's temporarily sidelining its flagship beer from any Super Bowl advertising. Instead, the company says it's taking the money it planned on spending on the commercial and directing it towards coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. It will be the first time since 1983 — the year Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light to the masses — that the main Budweiser brand will be absent from the biggest sporting event of the year.
The beer joins other A-list brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to drop out of this year's advertising in an attempt to direct more funding to COVID-related efforts. That means that yes, it appears the iconic Clydesdale horses will be sitting out at least one year of Super Bowl advertising.
"I think the advertisers are correctly picking up on this being a riskier year for the Super Bowl," Villanova marketing professor Charles Taylor tells the Associated Press. "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."
The AP says other brands expected to have a presence on the day of the Big Game include Triller, Fiverr, Vroom, M&M's, Pringles, and Toyota.
"We have a pandemic that is casting a pall over just about everything," Dartmouth corporate communication professor Paul Argenti said. "It's hard to feel the exuberance and excitement people normally would. It's a tough year to do an ad. It will be a good year for creative companies who figure out how to thread that needle."
He added, "The Super Bowl is the most popular sports event, aside from the World Cup, that anybody is going to see. An event that draws that many people to the advertising is never going to go away."
Cover photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images