Anheuser, the game's biggest advertiser, with 4½ minutes of ad time, is paying roughly $2 million per 30 seconds, says a person familiar with the matter. Anheuser is still formalizing its ad plans, and its lineup could change.
Those ads will work hard to remind consumers of Anheuser's heritage. For the first time, the company will air three ads that star the iconic Clydesdales that pull its vintage beer wagon.
In one spot, a Clydesdale is struck by Cupid's arrow, and in another one of the big horses plays a game of fetch. Yet another spot, which is still being crafted, show how the Clydesdales made their way to America and found their niche.
The Clydesdale image "reinforces our brand values and reinforces that we are not changing, and we are the same company," says Bob Lachky, Anheuser's chief creative officer.
Can't wait to see the new ads on Super Bowl Sunday. The Clydesdale commercials and the nachos are really the only reasons to come inside and watch the game.
But I'm not sure that any ad can top the one from a few years back with the mini donk who yearned to be in the hitch with the Clydes. Fell off my chair laughing at the big feathers taped to the donkey's legs. Is there still a website where all the old Budweiser ads can be seen?
It's tempting to think that the heritage push also is an attempt to remind beer drinkers about Bud's all-American roots in wake of the $52 billion acquisition last year of Anheuser-Busch by Belgium-based InBev.
But Barry Burdiak, creative director for Bud ads at DDB Chicago, said the Clydesdale ads were in the works before the InBev deal was in motion. Here are some highlights from this year's Anheuser-Busch spots:
A Clydesale takes umbrage as a circus horse he has a crush on is taken away by a mean trainer who snarls "lover boy" at the lovesick horse. The Dalmatian is back from last year's hit Clydesdale ad that won USA Today's annual Super Bowl ad contest, this time in a game of fetch with the horse.
I love those Budweiser commercials, but the thing I find so funny about them is that they always show the horses just standing around loose, not wearing halters, no one taking care of them; beautiful barns, but the horses are never in stalls. The horses totally come and go as they please, which makes for funny and endearing commercials but probably gives the non-horse-owning public some odd ideas about horse care.