With funny frogs, adorable puppies and its iconic Clydesdale horses, Budweiser has become synonymous with Super Bowl advertising over the past four decades, producing some of the most memorable commercials in the history of television's marquee live event.
This year, however, the brand is taking a pass.
Budweiser announced Monday morning that it is foregoing its annual Super Bowl commercial slot for the first time in 37 years, joining fellow juggernauts Coke, Hyundai and Pepsi in skipping this year's Super Bowl broadcast amid the financial uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The beer brand said in a news release that instead of paying to air a Super Bowl ad, it will instead be "reallocating the media investment" to raise awareness about the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the year, in partnership with the Ad Council.
"Like everyone else, we are eager to get people back together, reopen restaurants and bars, and be able to gather to cheers with friends and family," Budweiser vice president of marketing Monica Rustgi said in a statement. "To do this, and to bring consumers back into neighborhood bars and restaurants that were hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic, we’re stepping in to support critical awareness of the COVID-19 vaccine."
According to the news release, Budweiser plans to donate some of its advertising airtime throughout 2021 to the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative, a coalition of experts in health, education and the economy. Clarissa Dickinson, a spokesperson for Budweiser, said she was unable to provide an exact financial value of the donated time but called it "a multi-million dollar commitment."
CBS, which owns the television rights for Super Bowl 55, has sought $5.5 million for a 30-second spot during this year's broadcast, according to multiple reports.