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The Loop

For the first time in 37 years, you won’t see a Budweiser Super Bowl commercial . . . and there’s a pretty good reason for that

January 25, 2021

Unprecedented. It’s the most overused word of the year. In ads, in conversation, on Twitter (especially on Twitter.) We never thought we’d say this, but we would love some precedent right now–just a little pinch of ordinary to right the ship and center the chi and all that jazz. Unfortunately, it looks like we have one last hefty dose never-before on the way, with Budweiser announcing on Monday that for the first time in 37 years, they will not air a Super Bowl commercial. No Clydesdales. No Frank and Louie. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

While the news is obviously a bummer, especially for the Super Bowl casual, the reasoning behind it could not be better. Check it out.

So yes, we see the irony of running an ad to say you’re not running a Super Bowl ad. But as the YouTube spot makes clear, the point is not that Budweiser is stepping back from plucking our puppy-loving heartstrings so we can reflect on more important issues. They’re stepping back so they can divert those exorbitant Super Bowl advertising dollars to COVID-19 vaccine awareness. That's considerably more concrete and potentially far more effective.

How much of a difference can this really make? What are we sacrificing our precious waaassups for? Well, as Fox Business reports, Viacomm was shopping 30-second Super Bowl ad slots for about $5.5 million a pop earlier this year. That’s a lot of extra dough, especially when you consider Budweiser is typically running multiple spots (a whopping eight at Super Bowl LIII in 2019 by some counts) over the course of a single Super Bowl broadcast.

Budweiser will use some of those funds to produce a digital short highlighting the heroics of American healthcare workers and their experiences with the vaccine, but the rest will be going to the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s Vaccine Education Initiative. As much as we'll miss them, to that we say Dilly Dilly.