Molson Coors Returns to Super Bowl Ads After AB InBev Ends Exclusivity

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AB InBev was the sole alcohol advertiser on the Super Bowl for more than 30 years

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Anheuser Busch, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, remains the NFL’s exclusive beer and hard seltzer sponsor, and does plan to buy national ads in next year’s game, a said.

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Next year’s Super Bowl will air on Fox on Feb. 12, 2023.

The decision by Anheuser-Busch has given its competitors an opportunity to get in on the game.

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“It was a no-brainer. Literally the moment we saw the announcement, we got to work on securing the Super Bowl spot,” said Molson Coors Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques. “This is a huge opportunity to bring our biggest brands to the most-watched sporting event in the US”

To date, Molson Coors has only purchased one 30-second ad spot, Ms. St. Jacques said. She declined to comment on which Molson Coors brands might be featured in the game.

The company over the past three years has focused on separating its two biggest sellers, Miller Lite and Coors Light. It has been marketing Miller Lite as a “beer’s beer” by, for example, running a campaign in which Miller Lite mocks the recent hard seltzer trend by launching competitors’ products into outer space,

Coors Light repositioned itself as a relaxation brand using ad campaigns with themes such as “Made to Chill” and “The Official Beer of Everything Unofficial.”

Molson Coors has also recently focused on promoting beer alternatives such as Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and Simply Spiked Lemonade.

Although the company has been shut out of the national TV networks’ ad rosters during the Super Bowl, Molson Coors has run campaigns that play off the game and its rivalry with Anheuser Busch.

When Anheuser-Busch bought a Super Bowl commercial last year to promote Bud Light Next, for example, Molson Coors secured the URL and set it up to redirect to joke websites.

It also ran a Miller Lite promotion around the Super Bowl that included a virtual bar on the digital platform Decentraland.

Ms. St. Jacques said Molson Coors would continue to try to reach Super Bowl fans beyond the game, even with the addition of an official Super Bowl commercial.

“It’s not about a 30-second spot,” said Ms. St. Jacques. “It’s about everything that goes around it and making sure that you are giving people not only something that catches their attention during a really cluttered time period, but gives them a reason to reach for your brand and your beer.”

Anjali S. Bal, an associate professor of marketing at Babson College, said exclusivity agreements have historically been viewed as a way for brands to command the conversation during a major event.

“But because of social media, because of other ways that we can engage with our consumers, we see that as less powerful an agreement,” she said. “I think part of the reason we’re seeing some companies move away from that is because it doesn’t have the same gravitas as when we had more unidirectional communication.”

She said she thinks more alcohol brands will advertise in the Super Bowl.

“I think we’re going to see an upswing just because the opportunity is there. I also think we’re going to see more of a testing of the waters,” she said.

Write to Patrick Coffee at [email protected] and Megan Graham at [email protected]


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