Anheuser-Busch Plans 3 Ads for the Super Bowl, Including a Follow-Up to ‘Puppy Love’

Bud Light will also go retro with Pac-Man spot

Anheuser-Busch has revealed that this year's Super Bowl will include one Bud Light ad and two Budweiser spots, including a sequel to 2014's megapupular "Puppy Love."

With each ad clocking in at 60 seconds, two of the commercials cover the traditional bases of humor and emotion, while a third more assertively promotes the company's credentials as a brewer. The third, for Bud, marks a change in tone for the brand.

The aim of the new tone, said vp of U.S. marketing Jorn Socquet, is to "be a little bit more provocative. We need to move forward, become less predictable and be more surprising to our consumers." He further described the new approach as being "more confident, less apologetic" and really having a point of view.

The "Grab Some Buds" campaign, from Anomaly, is approaching five years old, so a change in tone is not entirely unexpected. And while Socquet is generally pleased with the brand's health, he acknowledged that Bud needs to do more to connect with millennials, as Bud Light has achieved with its year-old "Up for Whatever" campaign from EnergyBBDO.

In a conference call with Adweek, Socquet and two colleagues—Budweiser vp Brian Perkins and Bud Light vp Alex Lambrecht—described the executions without showing them, in part because one has yet to be shot. As in years past, the brewer will release each ad in the week before the Feb. 1 broadcast—historically the most watched show on U.S. TV each year. Here are the highlights:

  • A Bud Light spot called "Coin" from EnergyBBDO will tell the story of a drinker of the light beer who steps out for a night of fun with 1980s icon Pac Man as he enters a life-size, interactive Pac-Man game. The ad will be supported by a House of Whatever event that the brewer will set up for three days in Phoenix, the host of this year's game. Steve Aoki will serve as DJ at the house. 

  • A Bud spot called "Lost Dog" from Anomaly will show how "only your best buds are the ones who always have your back," Perkins said. It's a sequel to last year's "Puppy Love," the most shared ad on Facebook of all time, and once again will feature a puppy and the brewer's iconic Clydesdales. Jake Scott is back as director.
  • Another Bud spot, which Anomaly will shoot in the next week, will focus on how A-B brews the King of Beers. As scripted, the ad "talks with real pride and real attitude about Budweiser quality," Perkins said, adding, "A lot of brands try and do that and there are prosaic ways to talk about that kind of thing. This one is going to do it with pride and swagger."

And while A-B considered its whole portfolio of brands for the Super Bowl, including Stella Artois and Michelob Ultra, the company decided to stick with its two biggest, in part because their consumption levels are high this time of year. Also, "those brands deserve the big and the bold disruptive campaigns," Socquet said. "And we still believe today that the Super Bowl is the perfect jumping off point for that strategy."