Bud Light gets a Super Bowl makeover
When it comes to advertising for Budweiser and Bud Light at Super Bowl XLVIII, viewers can expect a mix of the new and a few returning favorites.
The novelties include a revamped tagline for the Bud Light brand, with ads featuring its new, reclosable aluminum bottle. In the familiar category, Budweiser's beloved Clydesdale horses will prance, and parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev again holds the game's first advertising slot.
Anheuser-Busch InBev will air five spots in the Super Bowl, totaling three and half minutes. With 30-second spots reportedly selling for $4 million this year, that adds up to a $28 million tab for the brands.
Running in the No. 1 spot will be "So Cool," showcasing Bud Light's aluminum container. Called the "Bud Light Cool Twist," it's the result of a $150 million investment in design and production. The Cool Twist is already on shelves in some states and will be available nationwide by the time Super Bowl Sunday arrives.
Anheuser-Busch officials said the ad will also feature the world debut of a song from a "well-known artist."
Bud Light also gets an updated tagline, "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens." It will replace the current "Here We Go," which the brand has used for the past four years.
The tagline will be promoted in a 60-second spot and a 30-second spot that together are titled "Epic Night." Anheuser-Busch said "A-list" celebrities, whom it has not identified, will appear in them.
The new bottle and tagline are important moves in the company's attempt to revitalize Bud Light sales. While it is still the No. 1 beer, it has had flat-to-declining sales in recent years.
According to Chicago-based market research firm IRI, which measures sales in multioutlet and convenience retail chains, Bud Light volumes were down 2 percent in 2013.
The popular Clydesdales will return in a spot titled "Puppy Love." The ad, with a newborn dog that bonds with the horses, is a follow-up to last year's well-received "Brotherhood" ad.
"People have always told us that they love to see the Clydesdales during the Super Bowl, and we're going to oblige them on that love and bring them back again this year," said Paul Chibe, Anheuser-Busch InBev's vice president of U.S. marketing. " 'Puppy Love' ... will tug at people's heartstrings in a way that ... only a Clydesdale ad can."
Also familiar to Super Bowl watchers is the company's ownership of the coveted first ad slot. Anheuser-Busch has held the position for 27 years running.
Additional spots include a tribute to troops returning home from overseas with "Hero's Welcome."
"It's a recognition of the fact this is a special time as a big repatriation year for our troops in Afghanistan," said Brian Perkins, vice president of Budweiser. "We would like to use our time in the Super Bowl to say 'thank you' and give a salute to returning servicemen and women."
Beyond advertising during the big game, Anheuser-Busch is using Bud Light's position as the Official Beer Sponsor of the NFL in other ways—the biggest being the Bud Light Hotel New York.
The brand will turn a 4,000-passenger Norwegian Cruise ship into a Bud Light-themed hotel. The ship will host festivities throughout the weekend, including performances by the Foo Fighters and Imagine Dragons.
While Anheuser-Busch InBev has created the hotel for previous Super Bowls, putting it on a cruise ship docked on the Hudson River will help Bud Light shine among New York's bright lights.
In smaller destinations, "the NFL and the Super Bowl take over the entire city," Chibe said. "It will be more of a challenge for [them] to stand out against all that makes New York amazing."
But those not in New York won't be entirely shut out of the party.
"We're live streaming many of the events," said Rob McCarthy, vice president of Bud Light. "So even if you're not in New York you can still be enjoying what's happening at the Bud Light Hotel New York on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights."
—By CNBC's Tom Rotunno. Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno.