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Super Bowl LV: Indirect Marketing Could Leverage Beverage Giants Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser

By: Zach Weisleder

Three industry-leading beverage brands won't air commercial advertisements for their iconic, flagship drinks during this year’s Super Bowl.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and now Budweiser have joined several major brands that won't air new commercials during Super Bowl LV. 2020 saw the United States and the world beleaguered by the coronavirus pandemic, political and social unrest, and unprecedented unemployment rates. The world of digital advertising is fragile, and it would be surprising to see a controversial advertisement during this year’s NFL season finale.

For years, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have used Super Bowl commercial spots to accentuate their rivalry. In 2021, the two companies will use different avenues to continue their 'soda war'. Earlier this month, Pepsi announced it would focus all of its Super Bowl marketing budgets on their annual halftime show instead of during the games' commercials. While PepsiCo will run commercials for its soda Mountain Dew and snack collection under Frito-Lay, they will not be advertising its most iconic drink during commercial time.

Coca-Cola then decided to forego advertising any of its products during this year’s Super Bowl and will instead be "investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times."

February 7 will mark the first time in 37 years that Budweiser will not be airing a Super Bowl advertisement. Instead, the company will be allocating that money to the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative in order to expand COVID-19 vaccine awareness. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company behind Budweiser will still produce and air commercials featuring its other beer brands Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA. Budweiser opted to redirect its funds to the research-driven public education campaign. Budweiser's generosity has put them under the spotlight: over three-million views and multiple press opportunities and appearances.

Perhaps the uncharacteristic approaches and indirect marketing strategies will earn the three companies more respect and viewership than a 30-second commercial could have? Only time will tell.

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