Anheuser-Busch again spending big on the Super Bowl

Associated Press ST. LOUIS -Cedric the Entertainer is back. So is the bumbling referee as Anheuser-Busch Cos. is again the big spender among Super Bowl advertisers.

The St. Louis-based maker of the world’s biggest selling beer and light beer, Budweiser and Bud Light, has purchased five minutes of air time for CBS’s telecast of Super Bowl 38 on Feb. 1. That’s more than any other company.

Pepsi-Cola. Co. purchased three minutes of commercials. General Motors Corp., America Online and the NFL each purchased a minute and a half.

Advertising Age, a trade publication, reported the average price of a 30-second Super Bowl spot costs a record $2.3 million. That means Anheuser-Busch spent an estimated $23 million for its ads for an event that draws nearly as much attention for its advertisements as for the game itself.

Anheuser-Busch will unveil nine commercials: four 30-second spots and a 60-second commercial during the first half of the game, and four 30-second spots during the second half.

The commercials focus on Budweiser and Bud Light. One 60-second spot depicts a donkey who wants to be a Clydesdale horse. The spot is a variation of A-B’s previous Super Bowl commercials in which the Clydesdales play football.

A fourth-quarter ad promotes responsible drinking. In it, country singer Tim McGraw and Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox show up at a club, where they receive plenty of attention from adoring fans. But the celebrities are upstaged by a frumpy man – the designated driver – who has his own posse of attractive women.

Bud Light ads typically are humorous, but one emphasizes quality.

“With Bud Light, you have the humor,” said Bob Lachky, A-B’s vice president of brand management. “But it’s just nice to remind consumers what the product stands for.”

Among the Anheuser-Busch campaigns that didn’t make the Super Bowl cut: Leon, the egotistical football player whose commercials have run throughout the NFL season; and Real Men of Genius, the television version of the popular radio campaign.

In both those cases, the audience already knows the general ending, Lachky said. Super Bowl spots are supposed to wow and surprise audiences, he said.

Anheuser-Busch has created many memorable Super Bowl commercials. Among them: 1995’s Budweiser Frogs (“Bud … Weis … Er.”); Louie the fame-starved Lizard in 1998; and the “Whassup?” guys in 2000.