Budweiser Is Fighting Craft Beer Again in Super Bowl Ad

Last night, as the Denver Broncos rode four turnovers to a Super Bowl victory, an old adage was once again proven: Defense wins championships. So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that for the second year in a row, Budweiser used the Super Bowl to once again go on the defensive against the growing craft beer market.

In 2015, Budweiser ran a Super Bowl ad that most people remember for calling out “pumpkin peach ale.” But that commercial also spent a lot of time stating what Budweiser is not: “not brewed to be fussed over” and “brewed for drinking not dissecting” – two clear shots at craft beer fans.

This year, despite continuing to lose ground to smaller brewers, Budweiser doubled down on the previous year’s strategy, going even further to define what their signature beer isn’t: “not a hobby,” “not small,” “not sipped,” “not soft,” “not imported,” “not a fruit cup,” “not following,” “not for everyone” and “not backing down,” the one minute spot proclaimed last night.

Though the ad feels assertive with its pounding soundtrack (courtesy of Baauer of “Harlem Shake” fame) and big bold lettering, it’s supported by the hashtag #NotBackingDown – an incredibly defensive stance for the “king” of beers to take. They’re acting as if the subjects are rioting around the moat but the royalty refuses to flee the castle.

It all raises the question, if this is what Budweiser is not, then what is Budweiser? The signature brand from Anheuser-Busch wasn’t even the only A-B brand to get a Super Bowl ad last night. For the first time ever, the giant brewer ran a Super Bowl spot for its craftier product line, Shock Top – a far less defensive 30 seconds of TV time featuring comedian TJ Miller. Even Budweiser’s own ownership seems to realizes they have to put some focus on a brew that might appeal to the craft crowd.

The problem becomes that though defense wins championships, once you’ve already crowned yourself king, being on the defensive is no longer a good look. Luckily for the Budweiser, Peyton Manning gave them a free plug at the end of the game. If you’re looking to get your offense rolling again, a great quarterback is the way to do it. Then again, Peyton Manning appears to be headed towards retirement, which could be a fitting reflection on what kind of person still believes this Bud’s for them.

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