Conan, Clydesdales to Star in A-B Super Bowl Spots

The O’Brien vignette uses advertising as its backdrop and finds the funnyman reluctantly agreeing to appear in a Bud commercial — in Sweden

Noreen O’Leary

NEW YORK Conan O’Brien will appear in an Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl commercial that uses Bud Light’s “Drinkability” theme, while Budweiser’s stalwarts, the Clydesdales, are back in a trio of ads breaking during coverage of the Feb. 1 game on NBC.

A-B’s Keith Levy, vp, marketing, and chief creative officer Bob Lachky today offered a glimpse of the mostly humorous 4-1/2 minutes of work in the company’s 21st consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

In a departure this year, the brewer also expects to use the expensive TV time to build awareness for Budweiser American Ale and/or Bud Light Lime, two highly successful launches from 2008.

The O’Brien vignette uses advertising as its backdrop and finds the funnyman reluctantly agreeing to appear in a Bud spot — in Sweden. The spot was directed by Bryan Buckley from Hungry Man.

His involvement came after A-B began talking to NBC ad sales about the late-night host performing during Super Bowl weekend. O’Brien suggested a commercial instead, working with his head writer and DDB to finalize the script.

O’Brien didn’t take payment for the ad, with A-B making an “above scale” donation to the Fresh Air Fund on his behalf.

Two of the Clydesdale spots use lighthearted humor — one featuring some friendly competition with the brand’s Dalmatian and another dealing with equine love. The third is more of a tearjerker, covering the generational history of the Clydesdales’ journey to America.

For one of the U.S.’s most iconic brands, sold to InBev last year, the Budweiser mascots reaffirm the company’s roots.

A-B’s Levy said that while the spots aren’t a trilogy, they convey love, competition, heritage and perseverance: “They are human values but also ones that are embodied by Budweiser and A-B. We felt good about the tone but also about the ability to deliver on brand values.”

A-B is still finalizing its lineup, but six of the seven spots will come from Omnicom’s DDB in Chicago.

The Clydesdale “Generations” commercial was produced by Waylon Advertising, St. Louis. (Euro RSCG Chicago and LatinWorks Marketing had also submitted ideas.)

Veteran director Joe Pytka, who has worked for A-B since the 1980s, shot all of the Clydesdales spots.

The A-B execs said the current economic downturn was not a consideration in producing this year’s body of work. Lachky said he felt strongly that the economic environment had not changed the company’s messaging: “I don’t think people want to be reminded. They’re [watching the Super Bowl] to escape for the day.”

The brewer, which received 21 million online views associated with its Super Bowl spots last year, will also have a viral campaign via the Web and mobile devices, as well as online ads and ties to Facebook.

A-B expects to show three 30-second spots in the game’s first quarter, including the O’Brien spot.