Bud Light is dipping into an old bag of tricks to help it solve a very new challenge.
The popular Anheuser-Busch brew, hoping to rally consumers to its cause after a difficult period, will unveil the latest in a parade of funny characters in Super Bowl LVIII. A new ad slated to run in the third quarter of the game introduces the Bud Light Genie, an affable creature who grants a group of friends many wishes during an epic night out. By the time the commercial ends, the pals meet up with Peyton Manning, Post Malone and UFC CEO Dana White.
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“There really is a universal truth behind it,” says Todd Allen, vice president of marketing for Bud Light. “A weeknight out with your friends should be easy.”
The commercial marks a return by Bud Light to the humorous advertising that has made it one of the most durable sponsors of the Big Game. Last year, Bud Light worked to expand its customer base with a commercial that showed Miles and Keleigh Teller dancing while listening to hold music from one of their smartphones. The reliance on a female character was novel for a Bud Light ad, as was the more sophisticated premise. The brand is often known for using frat-boy characters and party antics in its ads.
The change in tone may have been too noticeable. Bud Light sales suffered last year as marketers continued their quest to broaden the brew’s customer base. One tactic – sending a can of Bud Light to Dylan Mulvaney, a trans advocate and influencer – became a rallying cry across right-leaning media and put the brand in cultural crosshairs.
The new ad is “putting the fans first,” says Allen, who notes that “we want to lean into humor a little more.”
Ad characters have been a hallmark of Bud Light advertising for years. The brew has introduced such mainstays as “Real Men of Genius,” Cedric the Entertainer, the guy who says “I Love You Man” and the Bud Knight. Indeed, in 2021, Bud Light celebrated the figures by grouping them all in a single Super Bowl ad.
“We are ready to unleash the genie into the world,” Allen says, and the character is likely to stay around for a while. Anheuser-Busch will create an exchange on Facebook Messenger that lets consumers talk to the character and make wishes. Some, he says, are likely to be granted.
In years past, Bud Light often showed up early at the Super Bowl, often in a commercial break in the first quarter of the game. But Allen suggests the placement in the second half is deliberate. “There is a unique ending to the spot,” he says, “and you will have to tune in to see how we are going to finish the story.”
No doubt, Bud Light hopes consumers won’t want to put this genie back in its bottle.
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