Budweiser will not show an appearance in Superbowl LIV due to reallocation of funds. The money that would have been spent on the commercial is now being donated towards coronavirus vaccine awareness. In specific, the advertising funds are being distributed between the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative to help drive vaccine distribution across the country. This decision marks the first time since 1983 the beer company has not been presented in the NFL event. Budweiser has gone public with not wanting to waste $5.5 million dollars for only 30 seconds of airtime during a national crisis.
Budweiser has caught public attention by airing advertisements that announce their decision and promote the effectiveness of the current vaccine. A respectable decision on the grounds that the internet contains all; ads will still be seen regardless of Superbowl airtime. However, this can create a controversy of ethics over was this decision a business move, or out of concern for public health?
Some joke that beer is what unites the American people, but Budwieser exemplified that notion with their actions and most recent commercial. The flagship beer created a 90-second video for vaccine awareness that contains footage from real lives across the nation during the pandemic. The video is diverse with ethnicities, viewpoints, information and emotion. It is set to the song "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers and is narrated by Rashida Jones.
To prove Budweiser’s point and still maintain traditional comedic elements, Samuel Adams has put out an online spoof commercial. An ode to the Budweiser decision, Samuel Adams shows a spoofed version of the Clydesdales and their beer brethren. Due to rules set in place by parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev, the commercial cannot be aired nationally but will be shown in Boston and New York.
Benched players in the commercial game this season include automaker Hyundai, as well as PepsiCo. and Coca-Cola. An absence of well known brands opens up a slot for smaller brands to present product placement in a medium which normally did not have open opportunity. Newcomers to the game include Chipotle, DoorDash, Amazon’s Alexa, Squarespace and Huggies.
Kantar investment leader Satya Menon spoke insight about Budweiser’s decision, claiming, "[t]heir absence might be as noticeable as being present. People are thinking about why they’re not there, and [thus] talking about what they actually did, which is a PSA itself.”
Menon’s point demonstrates how companies like Budweiser are victorious this season from a moral and business point of view. Advertisements by these companies are still streamed via YouTube, social media and various visual streaming services. Therefore, product placement remains active. Name recognition with the brands who opted out of Superbowl LIV will remind consumers of moral values, thus persuading them to choose that specific brand over their competitors. Since Budweiser has moved forward, they have been Anheuser-Busch InBev's winner in beer sales, and their stocks are on the rise.