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Bud Plays Ball: Legendary Super Bowl Ad Turns 35

It was January 1989. Montana’s 49ers were gearing up to play Boomer’s Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII. But another competitor was also preparing for the big game … Budweiser didn’t just want to advertise during the Super Bowl, they wanted to own the entire event. With that mission in mind, the Bud Bowl was born.

Created by now-defunct advertising agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, the Bud Bowl depicted a stop-motion animated football game between two beers (Bud and Bud Light) that played out over multiple commercials throughout the duration of the Super Bowl. The inaugural Bud Bowl ads cost $3 million to produce (huge money at the time). The commercials were fast, overflowing with puns, and featured the great Bob Costas delivering play-by-play commentary.

An instant sensation, the Bud Bowl became a regular part of Super Bowl advertising and pre-game promotions for the better part of the 90s (the series ended with Bud Bowl VIII in 1997). Fans grew to anticipate the spots—guessing or betting on the outcome of the Bud Bowl, just as they did with the actual game.

While the concept for the ads may seem a little goofy today, the execution was groundbreaking at the time. As Grant Pace, who worked on the campaign in ‘89 and currently owns the integrated marketing agency Conover Tuttle Pace, states in a recent piece he wrote for The Drum:

“The Bud Bowl was the first commercial made entirely just for the Super Bowl. Its six commercials ran only that one time. It was also the first multi-part series and probably the first integrated campaign with PR and in-store signage playing such a big role.”

It may be hard to imagine, but, for a brief window of time, a game played between bottles of beer was almost more exciting than the big game itself.

  • SOURCE: The Drum
  • BRAND: Budweiser

AUTHOR: Shad Connelly
ORIGIN: Communications Director @ MONSTERS Unlimited

Follow Shad on Speaking Human  /  Human Content from Shad

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