Super Bowl Sunday is around the corner. If you’re not in it for the game itself (guilty), you’re likely tuning in for the live performances, and commercials.
It’s not only game time for the players, though, major brands will ultimately end up with a win or a loss at the end of the night.
All told, the stakes might be equally as high.
Last year’s Super Bowl had a record 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV show in U.S. history. A 30-second commercial cost a cool $4 million, and by my count, 57 total commercials aired.
FUN FACT: Back in 1967 at the first Super Bowl, things were a bit different. Nielsen estimates the total viewership was 51.18 million and the entertainment consisted of a trumpeter, and two college marching bands. The cost of a 30-second commercial was $42,000.
[SIDE NOTE: This year’s commercials cost $4.5 million a pop]
Regardless, with all of that money on the line, how do iconic American brands best promote their product for the onslaught of consumers who will inevitably be watching?
I always look to beer. It’s usually in my hand during the game, and, it’s usually on the big screen, too.
For me, Budweiser is the top runner for strong branding and unfailing visual accompaniment. Puppies! Horses! Against the booming sounds in the living room, their commercials usher in some peace.
They consistently do it right—tugging on the heartstrings and playing up their heritage. Remember their 9/11 commercial that aired only once?
Here’s some background on their famous Clydesdales, a marketing fixture since 1933.
“On April 7, 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition.Realizing the marketing potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, the company also arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York on April 7 to mark the event. The Clydesdales, driven by Billy Wales, drew a crowd of thousands as they clattered down the streets of New York City to the Empire State Building. After a small ceremony, a case of Budweiser was presented to former Governor Alfred E. Smith in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition.”
And they are nothing if not consistent—Budweiser’s first ever Super Bowl commercial showcased those same (albeit different) horses.
Last year, according to the USA Today 2014 Ad Meter, their ads took two of the top spots (#1 and #3 respectively). This year suggests more of the same, with the “Lost Dog” video already circulating the web.
So, what does all of this consistency represent to the viewer?
For me, Budweiser reminds me of my father, his drink of choice in the 80s and 90s. Bud light reminds me of college (and quite frankly, most current summertime outings). Both signal happy and fond memories.
For brands looking for longevity, Budweiser has perfected a simple formula: focus on a good product and pair it with a memorable emblem. Don’t reinvent just continue to polish. Every year doesn’t have to feel different and new. On the contrary, it should feel familiar.