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Budweiser's 'old-school' Super Bowl ad features Clydesdale horses in attempt to buck last year's controversy

By James Rogers

The Budweiser Super Bowl ad is entitled 'Old-School Delivery' and features the return of the company's iconic Clydesdale horses

Budweiser has brought back its iconic Clydesdale horses in the company's Super Bowl ad, as Anheuser-Busch touts a more traditional branding message after last year's Bud Light controversy.

The ad, entitled "Old-School Delivery," marks the Clydesdale's 46th Super Bowl appearance. A Labrador also features prominently in the ad, which Anheuser-Busch InBev (BE:ABI) (BUD) describes as "a timeless message of resilience and determination that defines both the Budweiser brand and the American spirit."

"I think I would probably characterize it as a return to their roots in terms of things that have worked for them," says branding expert Jim Andrews. "It plays well to that Super Bowl audience and reinforces some of the traditional [Budweiser] messaging."

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Andrews, the founder and CEO of A-Mark Partnership Strategies, notes that the most popular Super Bowl ads often feature animals, especially dogs.

Bud Light drew backlash last year after a promotion during March Madness featuring trans activist and actress Dylan Mulvaney. U.S. sales subsequently fell amid a boycott from conservatives.

While Anheuser-Busch U.S. sales were impacted by the controversy, it did not resonate overseas and the company saw revenue growth in 80% of its worldwide markets during its fiscal-third quarter. In October, the company also said that its total beer market share in the U.S. had remained stable since late April.

Related: Bud Light draws backlash after promoting trans activist Dylan Mulvaney, but marketing pros say it's a smart move

Earlier this week Anheuser-Busch shares enjoyed their biggest one-day rise in three months in Brussels trade after former President Donald Trump urged people to give the company a second chance.

Whereas Budweiser has opted for a feel-good ad, Bud Light is opting for humor in its own Super Bowl spot, with a genie-themed ad featuring Peyton Manning and rapper Post Malone. Bud Light also took a humorous approach last year with a Super Bowl ad that featured husband-and-wife actors Miles Teller and Keleigh Sperry dancing to hold music.

Anheuser-Busch-owned Michelob Ultra's Super Bowl ad features soccer star Lionel Messi and actor Jason Sudeikis.

Related: Anheuser-Busch InBev stock rises as Trump says Bud Light maker should get second chance

Anheuser-Busch has also signed major sporting partnerships in recent months, clinching deals with the Olympic Games and UFC. "These kinds of brand partnerships with very popular sports properties, that's what Anheuser-Busch has done, and done well with, for decades," said Andrews.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch have risen 11.3% in New York trade in the last 52 weeks, compared with the S&P 500 index's SPX gain of 22.9%.

Steve Goldstein contributed.

-James Rogers

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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02-10-24 0844ET

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