Bud to Fans: Have Clydesdales Got Game?

After nearly being shut out of the Super Bowl this year, the Budweiser Clydesdales are going to be invited back to the party — if enough Facebook fans vote them in.

Anheuser-Busch vp, marketing Keith Levy this week revealed A-B’s ad lineup for SB XLIV — but it did not include a spot starring the brand’s famous Clydesdales.

The brewer reconsidered, and today posted an ad with the storied horse on Facebook, asking fans to help decide if its mascots should be part of the game.

The commercial focuses on the friendship between a Clydesdale and a steer. It did not test as well as the rest of the ads the brewer settled on for the game. However, the agency that produced the spot, DDB Chicago, came back to A-B with a stronger version, said Levy, so the company decided to reconsider.

“We were pretty locked into the lineup we had, [but] the agency kept working and working it and they delivered an edit that really got our attention,” he said. “We thought it was worthy enough to get some [more] consumer feedback.”

In addition to the Clydesdale commercial, the brewer has also posted a spot called “Payment,” about the way friends reward each other with the beer; and “Attention,” a spot about getting a bartender to take notice.

“Payment” had been slated for Super Bowl inclusion; “Attention” had not. Now, the fans can decide.

The company intends to keep voting open until Wednesday.

The original Clydesdale ad was a 30-second commercial, while the revised version is a full minute, allowing a stronger story to be told, said Levy.

“Who knows where [the online voting] will lead,” said Levy. “But we are using that as a piece of data to help guide our final decision.”

Asked if the Facebook component was always a part of the media plan — and if the decision reversal was a way to drum up extra publicity — Levy said: “It wasn’t a master plan to get more publicity. But by hook or by crook, we’re going to get a lot of publicity and a lot of consumer involvement.”

It is the first time A-B released a full Super Bowl spot for viewing before the game, said Levy, a fortuitous change that will ultimately benefit the brands. “In the era of modern marketing, have to look for ways to get more consumer involvement, give them an invitation to be involved in your brands,” he said. “This is an attempt to do that. It was a very interesting magical situation, all of this coming together.”

A-B, the exclusive national beer advertiser on the game, is running five minutes worth of advertising during the telecast this year. The bulk of the time will be used to advertise Bud Light and its new tagline, “Here we go,” from Cannonball, St. Louis.

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