Budweiser, a Super Bowl mainstay for almost four decades, will sit out the big game this year in a sign of just how much COVID-19 has shaken up our norms.
Instead of advertising during the game, the Anheuser Busch InBev brand will create a 30-second film called Bigger Picture, narrated by actress and activist Rashida Jones, pledging support for vaccine awareness so we can “see our Buds again.”
The film, which will run digitally in the week leading up to the game, highlights the resilience of Americans over the past year, with a focus on a group of healthcare workers who were among the first to receive the vaccine.
“I’m proud to lend my voice to the Bigger Picture film,” Jones said in a statement. “Budweiser shares my commitment to advocating for COVID-19 prevention and vaccine awareness and education. I’m happy to be a part of Budweiser’s celebration of our resilience and hope during these challenging times.”
Budweiser will reallocate its investment in a Super Bowl spot to support vaccine awareness efforts throughout the year, including donating a portion of its airtime in 2021 to the Ad Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine education initiative. The brand will also run additional vaccine education and awareness campaigns throughout 2021.
The decision breaks with a longstanding tradition for Budweiser, a consistent Super Bowl advertiser for almost four decades. Last year, Budweiser debuted a stop titled Typical American, which challenged stereotypes of Americans to show the best in people.
But Budwesier isn’t going silent on Super Bowl Sunday. To connect with fans during the big game, the beer brand will offer every person of legal drinking age in the U.S. a free Budweiser and opportunities to win additional prizes from January 25 until game day, February 7, at ABeerOnBud.com. Parent Anheuser-Busch will still run ads for Bud Light Seltzer and Michelob Ultra. Budweiser will also feature in an AB InBev spot and on the ground at the game.
AB InBev’s decision mirrors brands including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, other Super Bowl mainstays who have decided to forgo an in-game spot this year.
The beverage industry is heavily reliant on restaurants and venues, causing AB InBev’s stock to slide 14.5% over the past year, due to a 6.8% revenue drop directly related to pandemic restrictions.
This story first appeared on campaignlive.com.