This year’s Super Bowl will be the first time in 33 years that AB InBev does not have exclusivity in the alcohol category. Although the brewer made the decision to share the floor with rivals, they have signed up to three minutes of in-game national commercial time for four ads, all of which are dedicated purely to promoting their low alcohol beers*. A quote we read in Ad Age from Benoit Garbe, AB InBev’s U.S. chief marketing officer, posed a question…was this part of a wider strategy to benefit the low to no category?
“I feel very confident with our brands, that the creativity will really break through,” Garbe continued. “And ultimately, I think we are embracing the change. We want to lead and grow the category. So, welcoming more competition is a great way to grow and foster the category as well.”*
To help them achieve their objectives of leading the low alcohol category, the Super Bowl will debut a new campaign for Bud Light’s zero carb beer, dedicate two ads to Michelob Ultra and the final national commercial slot will go to Busch Light. Michelob Ultra will be getting double the airtime due to the rising sales, that are set to surpass Bud Light as the country’s top-selling beer**. Michelob has just unveiled that their low carb beer has the backing of celebrities such as Serena Williams and Brian Cox, who we’ll see in this year’s commercial. All the ads are aimed towards the next generation of beer drinkers – those who are also focused on health and wellness.
Let’s look at the rivals’ game time tactics when it comes to the low to no category…
It’s been reported that competitors such as Molson Coors purchased 30 seconds of commercial time to use for Miller Lite or Coors light* and Heineken will be the first non-alcoholic beer to air a Super Bowl ad**. Heineken commercial is set to air in the first half of the game in a 30 second ad slot.
Their commercial is based on Paul Rudd, who stars as Ant-Man in the Marvel film series, promoting responsible drinking, which is part of their overarching brand strategy of “campaigns that celebrate sober gatherings.” Jonnie Cahill, Heineken USA’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement that the commercial reinforces the brand’s “continued commitment to making moderation cool” and is “the ultimate expression of relevant, responsible consumption.”****
CGA reported that consumption of non-alcoholic beer in January 2022 was 29%, up from just 5% in 2019. These trends aren’t limited to just beer – mocktails accounted for 7% of consumption in January 2019 and were 23% in 2022*****. Brands have seen huge shifts in sober curious consumers over the past few years, and the emphasis these non-alcoholic brewers are putting on their low to no beers in this year’s Super Bowl aligns with consumer trends, considering consumption of non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic alternatives are up significantly.
We love monitoring the progression of this category, and it’s exciting to see a huge shift in brewers’ focus to use their airtime to raise awareness of this category and sales of the low alcohol options. Brand backed with Celebrity endorsements, continued consumer normalization of sober curiosity, along with more and more brands coming to market, repeatedly proves the value of this category. We’ll definitely be sharing a non-alcoholic beer or two during our Super Bowl parties this year!