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The world's largest brewer is promoting a different liquid on the nation's biggest stage: water.
Anheuser-Busch will run two ads during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl featuring its water initiatives. One commercial features Budweiser in a brewery that's been converted to can water and provide relief for people affected by natural disasters. Another includes actor Matt Damon encouraging people to buy a Stella Artois-branded chalice to help people around the world access clean drinking water.
The company will take a classic approach for its Bud Light and Michelob Ultra ads.
A-B's decision to promote its "Better World" initiative on the biggest advertising night of the year comes as consumers scorn big brewers and opt for craft beer, often made locally. More people are also demanding companies take stances on social and environmental issues.
"If we think about our consumer, they really appreciate being local and close to their communities, but they don't expect it only from the small entrepreneur closer to them," A-B CEO Michel Doukeris said. "Really, the expectation of what big companies and big brands can do, we think is because of our scale we have time to engage in an initiative like that, and we can really touch a lot of people and make an impact."
In conjunction with the ads, A-B is announcing that it's equipping its brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, to can water. Its Cartersville, Georgia, facility was previously the only one that could switch production. It received an abundance of media attention when it canned water that its distributors brought to help residents in the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Harvey.
A-B provided 3 million cans of water to relief efforts in 2017, a year marked by numerous disasters. Adding a facility on the West Coast will help water reach communities in places like California quicker, Doukeris said.
Critics will likely view A-B's ads as a way to try to soften parent company AB InBev's image as a large conglomerate buying up independent craft brewers. Doukeris insists it's about more than optics, noting that A-B has produced 79 million cans of water since starting the program in 1988.
"We're truly sincere and are not only trying to manage perception," he said. "We're really trying to make an impact."