There is enormous pressure to perform well at the Super Bowl. This is true for the players, of course, and it is true for the advertisers.
But the pressure is greatest for the marketing team at Anheuser-Busch: they simply have to deliver. Anheuser-Busch needs to have the most popular spot on the Super Bowl. Anything short of this is a fiasco.
This is true for two reasons. First, Anheuser-Busch is spending more than any other advertiser. This year, A-B is apparently buying 4½ minutes of advertising time. This is far more than any other advertiser. With potentially nine different spots, A-B should manage to connect on one of them.
Second, A-B has consistently delivered in the past. Just take a look at the top-rated spots in the USA Today Super Bowl ad poll for the past four years:
2005: Bud Light (the airplane spot)
2006: Bud Light (the magic fridge spot)
2007: Budweiser (the crabs spot)
2008: Budweiser (the rocky spot)
The problem, of course, is that when you consistently produce appealing spots there is huge pressure to keep the momentum going.
Will the Anheuser-Busch team do it again this year?
I suspect so. A-B will have nine tries. More importantly, A-B knows Super Bowl advertising better than anyone; A-B has far more experience than any other advertiser in the world when it comes to the Super Bowl.
Still, there are some questions this year going into the game.
Each year, Anheuser-Busch invites key members of the media in for a preview of the advertising to come. This occurred last week, and led to articles in most of the major publications. For example Suzanne Vranica (Wall Street Journal) and Stuart Elliott (New York Times) both wrote pieces on the A-B work.
Lewis Lazare, from the Chicago Sun-Times was quick to pan the ads, with the headline “A-B Ads Fall Flat.”
Lewis is a tough judge of advertising, but his concern raises a red flag.
One thing is certain: the pressure is on down in St. Louis.