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Budweiser skips Super Bowl for first time in 37 years, instead funds critical vaccine awareness

The company will donate a total of $1 million worth of commercial slots to the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative's Vaccine Education Initiative.

Budweiser skips Super Bowl for first time in 37 years, instead funds critical vaccine awareness
Image Source: Facebook/ BudweiserIndia

In the past 37 years, beer company Budweiser has not missed a single opportunity to advertise during the widely viewed Super Bowl. In fact, the brand's Clydesdale horses have almost become synonymous with the national sporting event. This time, however, Budweiser will shift their advertising funds, which would have otherwise been spent on the Super Bowl commercial slot, to support "critical COVID-19 vaccine awareness." Therefore, a reported $5.6 million allotted for the February 7 event will be spent on donations and future ad campaigns, the company announced on Monday. This is primarily because the pandemic encouraged Budweiser executives to rethink their marketing strategy, CNN reports.

 



 

 

Vice president of marketing Monica Rustgi said in an interview with CNN Business that the pandemic "forced Budweiser to rethink its marketing approach." As is now common knowledge, the alcohol industry was one of the hardest hit by local shutdowns, which deeply affected restaurants, bars, and large events. With this in mind, the beer company wants to "be proactive" in promoting vaccine awareness. This is primarily because the vaccine is perhaps the only strategy to return to a sense of normalcy, particularly for the food and beverage sector. Hence, part of Budweiser's planned advertising airtime this year will be handed to the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative's Vaccine Education Initiative.

 



 

 

In 2020, both organizations banded together through a formal partnership in order to educate the public about the vaccine's safety and efficacy. Now, Budweiser will donate a total of $1 million worth of commercial slots on TV, radio, and other ad inventory to the two organizations for future advertising purposes. In addition to this, the beer producers are set to roll out a new online ad later this week featuring Rashida Jones of Parks and Recreation fame. The ad will tell the story of people coping with the novel Coronavirus as well as that of a group of healthcare workers who were among the first people in the United States to receive the vaccine. (They are also giving away free beer on a special website!)

 



 

 

At present, Americans seem deeply confused about the vaccine, a new study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown. About 60 percent of citizens said they do not know when or where to get it. Furthermore, 50 percent of survey respondents reported that they felt "frustrated" about the vaccine's rollout by the government; another 25 percent felt "angry." 60 percent also rated their state government's performance on vaccines as either fair or poor. While Budweiser will not air any adverts, Anheuser-Busch's other brands, such as Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, will air four minutes' worth of ads during the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, vice president Rustgi believes Budweiser's absence will be felt. She said, "Some people might wonder why we are not showing up at the Super Bowl, but we will just show up in a different way."

 



 

 

Mark Read, the CEO of the world's largest advertising firm WPP, claimed that Budweiser's move "says more about the mood in the country than it does about the value of the Super Bowl as a marketing platform." He shared, "Obviously brands need to speak to consumers in the right tone and are rightly worried about getting this wrong, but I have no doubt that the Super Bowl will remain the year's biggest sports and advertising event." Nonetheless, Budweiser is not the only company to skip the Super Bowl commercials this year. Other big names, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, also announced that they would not be purchasing commercial slots for Super Bowl LV.

 



 

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