Anheuser-Busch announced it won’t be placing any Budweiser ads in Super Bowl 55. But don’t worry, the Clydesdale horses aren’t out of work. Instead, Sam Adams will feature the iconic breed in an East Coast ad campaign.

Budweiser paired Clydesdales with a puppy for a number of Super Bowl ads
“Lost Puppy” was Budweiser’s popular 2015 Super Bowl ad. This year, Bud’s ad money will be spent trying to get people safely back in bars. (Image: Anheuser-Busch)

Budweiser isn’t the first brand to drop out of this year’s Super Bowl. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Hyundai have already decided to pass on big-game ad slots. But, Bud isn’t trying to save money. Instead, it’s trying to spend it in a way that gets more people back in bars and drinking beer.

Budweiser Diverts Super Bowl Money for Vaccine PSA

Instead of splurging on a Budweiser Super Bowl ad slot, Anheuser-Busch announced it will donate money to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

“For the first time in 37 years, the brand will forego its in-game Super Bowl air-time and reallocate that investment to support the Ad Council and public awareness and education throughout the year for the COVID-19 vaccination effort.” A-B’s press release stated, “This commitment is an investment in a future where we can all get back together safely over a beer.”

Last year, A-B spent $41 million on Super Bowl ads, according to Kantar, an ad tracking company. But even without its Budweiser ads, A-B will still drop a bundle on its other brands. Expect four minutes of commercials — at roughly $11 million per minute — promoting Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra, and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. None of these brands, however, feature Clydesdales — the literal workhorses of Budweiser ad campaigns.

Sam Adams’ Hoof Spoof

Budweiser has used Clydesdales as part of its marketing strategy since 1933. To commemorate the repeal of Prohibition, the Busch family sent a team of Clydesdales to New York. The horse-drawn hitch attracted thousands of spectators on its journey to deliver a case of beer to New York’s governor. The hitch traveled throughout the east, ultimately dropping off a case to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Clydesdales made their Super Bowl debut in 1986. Since then, they’ve had snowball fights, played football, cavorted with donkeys and puppies, and even paid tribute to the victims of 9/11.

Some Super Bowl 55 viewers still might see an ad featuring Clydesdales, but it won’t be for Budweiser. The Boston Beer Company will use Clydesdales in a local Super Bowl spot, promoting Sam Adams Wicked Hazy IPA.

In Boston Beer’s Budweiser spoof, a team of galloping Clydesdales is accidentally set loose on a quiet New England town. It may or may not be a hit with local viewers, but either way, the ad will be a bargain. The 30-second local ad only cost Boston Beer $770,000 instead of the $5.5 million paid by national Super Bowl advertisers.

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