NEW YORK — Budweiser is bringing back some familiar characters in its Super Bowl commercial this year.
For years, the Super Bowl marketer has been bringing back fan-favorite characters, the Clydesdales and the Labrador; It’s a nod to the Labradors who have starred in previous ads in advertising’s biggest night.
Some advertisers are running ads ahead of Super Bowl 58, hoping to capitalize on the growing excitement as the game approaches. They hope to recoup some of the $7 million that is the going rate for a 30-second commercial by attracting pregame attention. Standing out among more than 50 advertisers competing for the eyes of the more than 100 million people expected to tune in to CBS (and Paramount+ and Nickelodeon) on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 11 is a big challenge.
Advertisers are aware that this is a presidential election year and there is some conflict going on around the world. So they’re sticking to comforting themes like nostalgia for the big game, humor and, as always, tons of celebrities.
At Anheuser-Busch’s nostalgic hotspot, a snowstorm threatens to derail a delivery of Budweiser to a small-town bar. But a team of Clydesdales and a Labrador retriever team up to help Budweiser make the delivery.
Experts say the feel-good spot strikes the right chord for Anheuser-Busch, which is trying to win back consumer sentiment after last year’s conservative backlash against Bud Light after the brand sent a souvenir box to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light also angered transgender rights supporters who thought it had abandoned Mulvaney.
“It pays homage to its history in America,” said Ray Taylor, marketing professor at Villanova School of Business. “And I think for those big brands, if they have iconic themes like Budweiser and Clydesdales, that’s a can’t-miss strategy.”
Anheuser-Busch will also air a Bud Light commercial, but it has not been announced yet. The company also tapped football star Lionel Messi for its Michelob Ultra commercial.
Other early ads focus on absurdist humor. A Kawasaki ad shows people riding “side by side” in Ridge SUVs growing mullet because the vehicle is “work in the front, party in the back.” The Hellmann commercial, starring Kate McKinnon and focusing on food waste, features a cat who is famous and is dating Pete Davidson.
“The first Super Bowl ads to air feature light humor,” said Northwestern University marketing professor Tim Calkins. “This is not a surprise; Safety is paramount when advertising during the Super Bowl, so most advertisers will stay away from controversial topics.
As always, the commercials are jam-packed with celebrities, even overcrowded. An early BetMGM commercial had Vince Vaughan saying Tom Brady had won too much to use the betting app and that it should be left to others to win, angering Brady. Wayne Gretzky also stars in the commercial.