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3/4/99 - It's Good To Be King

Laying out $1.6 million to run a spot on the Super Bowl spot might seem like an easy way to become an overnight sensation for brand wannabes like HotJobs.com. But for established names like Nike, Pepsi, McDonalds, Miller Lite, Intel and Oscar Mayer the game seems to have gotten too rich.

Though each has their own reasons for dropping out, I'm sure that it all comes down to the conclusion that their media money would be better spent elsewhere.

One perennial Super Bowl sponsor who was back and most certainly gets full value out of their participation is Budweiser. The King of Beers is the King of the Bowl, with more airtime (5 minutes and 15 seconds) than anyone else. Plus a blimp.

Years ago, they cleverly forged an indelible association with the event by using it as a vehicle to air the "The Bud Bowl." Even though they sent their battling bottles into cyberspace for this year's showdown, the cumulative effect of their previous Bud Bowl broadcasts is sure to have an afterlife in the minds of viewers for years to come.

Among the nine spots Budweiser aired, five featured creatures of some sort--a tradition that includes four-footed ad icons like the Clydesdales and Spuds McKenzie. The lizards and frogs campaign was taken to the next level with the frogs finally speaking in reaction to their firing and tongue-lashing Louie in retaliation. The Budweiser menagerie also included separated at birth Dalmatians, a rebellious lobster and a daredevil mouse.

Actually, the spot in which a guy slingshots his pet mouse through a woman's open window in order to scare her and her Bud Light into his apartment crossed over into another ongoing Bud campaign. I suppose you could describe it as the "regular, beer-loving guys" campaign. Originally staked out with catch phrase driven campaigns like "Why Ask Why," "Yes, I am," "Ladies Night" and "I Love You Man," it has devolved into a series hookless spots. The current executions play off the psyche of the average, somewhat slackerish twentysomething male (which Miller Lite's ill-fated "Dick" most certainly wasn't).

The Bowl spot featuring two guys faced with the tough decision of choosing beer or toilet paper is a perfect example of this executional attitude. It's a new version of a Bud spot from a few years ago in which a groom decides to jilt his rich, beautiful bride at the alter to pursue his love of Light.

Along with entertaining critters and bad boys, even the snoozers like August Busch reflecting on his family's heritage and the obligatory "responsible drinking" lecture play a familiar role in this annual ritual.

In fact, creating a sense of comfort and trust is the biggest long-term benefit of Budweiser's adstravaganza. Just as fans can't count on who'll make up their team's roster from year to year, the same goes for the big game's commercial line-up. When you come right down to it, you can only depend on two things: The game will be held on a Sunday and it'll always be Bud's Bowl.