Bud to Strike Note of Pragmatism


In Super Bowl Ad Lineup, Brewer Will Temper Humor to Tout Beer’s Quality


One of the country’s most irreverent advertisers, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is expected to serve up some Super Bowl ads this year that hit a different note, drilling home the quality of its beer.

Anheuser’s Bud Light brand, whose ads are known for their slapstick humor, is adopting a more pragmatic approach in its ad lineup for the Feb. 1 big game. That mirrors shifts many other advertisers are making as they adapt to a hostile economy.

“For this Super Bowl, a lot of advertisers will stick with the hard-sell approach,” says John Greening, an associate professor of advertising at Northwestern University.

One Bud Light spot, which will use the brand’s “drinkability” slogan, features two young men at a ski resort talking about how Bud Light is “easy to drink because it goes down smooth.” One of the men attempts to illustrate competing brands’ alleged lack of smoothness by throwing painful obstacles in front a skier. Another Bud Light spot features late-night talk-show host Conan O’Brien agreeing to do a commercial that ostensibly will be aired only in Sweden. In the ad, he dons a disco-themed ensemble with a plunging neckline that reveals his chest hair. Anheuser, the game’s biggest advertiser, with 4½ minutes of ad time, is paying roughly $2 million per 30 seconds, says a person familiar with the matter. Anheuser is still formalizing its ad plans, and its lineup could change.