Why Budweiser, Pepsi, Coke and other brands won't have Super Bowl ads

The brand donated to the Ad Council and created a new film.

January 25, 2021, 12:03 PM

From funny frogs and heartwarming dogs to classic Clydesdale horses pulling a Budweiser carriage, the beer brand often created a buzz among Super Bowl watchers, but this year the company will not be part of commercial breaks during the big game.

PHOTO: In this Jan. 30, 3016, file photo, Budweiser Clydesdales trot down Las Vegas Boulevard to commemorate grand opening of Beer Park At Paris Las Vegas.
In this Jan. 30, 3016, file photo, Budweiser Clydesdales trot down Las Vegas Boulevard to commemorate grand opening of Beer Park At Paris Las Vegas.
Denise Truscello/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

The brand, owned by Anheuser-Busch, announced on Monday that for the first time in 37 years it is trading out it's traditional advertising approach to dedicate efforts elsewhere "after a year that looked like no other."

"Budweiser is foregoing its iconic in-game Super Bowl airtime and reallocating the media investment to help support recovery in the on-premise through COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education throughout the year," the company said in a statement. "This year, Budweiser will be running its ad digitally in the week leading up to and during the game. The piece, entitled 'Bigger Picture,' celebrates the individual acts of resilience that sparked hope during the last year and spotlights a group of first responders who were among the first people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine."

The Super Bowl LV campaign, narrated by actress, advocate and director Rashida Jones, "champions the resilience of America and the promise of the future."

The host of the "Ask Big Questions" podcast said in a statement, "I'm proud to lend my voice" to this film because she explained the brand "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 is among the first brands to create a film and donation in lieu of advertising airtime for the Ad Council and a public health initiative, COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative.

Pepsi, who has had famous cameos from stars including Cardi B and Cindy Crawford, has also forfeited the big game airtime and said it will instead focus on its investment in the halftime show.

Coca-Cola also announced recently the choice to sit this year out.

The company said in a statement that it made the decision to "ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times."

"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's VP of Marketing, Monica Rustgi said. "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."

Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman hailed the cross-industry work with Budweiser in their own push to present "accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines so [Americans] can make informed choices for themselves and their families."

"Budweiser’s extraordinary commitment that will help bring our nation one step closer to recovery," she said.

The brand will continue to support COVID-19 vaccine education efforts with additional campaigns throughout 2021.

"The film starts with a recreation of a viral video from early in the pandemic of a man singing 'Lean on Me' out his apartment window, followed by his neighbors joining in," the company said of the Bill Withers song that "provided renewed inspiration during the initial COVID-19 lockdown and serves as a backdrop to 'Bigger Picture.'"

The film includes both found and shot footage to show ordinary moments throughout 2020 when "Americans came together to do something extraordinary."

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