The 51st Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday, and once again beverage companies are among the top spenders in the gaps during the game.

Admittedly, most of the money (estimates put the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad at US$5m) comes from Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose products account for four of the nine beverages brands featuring in our Super Bowl rundown this year. This is down to the company's deal with Super Bowl broadcaster Fox to be its exclusive alcohol partner. 

However, there are débuts for some of the brewers lesser-known beers, while a handful of smaller producers step up to the big leagues for the first time with their own Super Bowl offerings. One even manages to side-step AB InBev's exclusivity clause with the élan of a pennant-winning wide receiver.

So, while the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons prepare to clash in the Houston Astrodome this weekend, take a look at the best the world of beverage marketing has to offer.

Budweiser

AB InBev's Budweiser is an ever-present at the Super Bowl, its commercials usually rather staid affairs featuring puppies, Clydesdale horses or active military personnel. This year's, however, has already caused a stir after observers detected a modern-day political angle to its retelling of the brand's history.

You could argue that the story of Anheuser-Busch company co-founder Adolphus Busch's arduous journey from Germany to the US in 1857 is no different to all those other tales of provenance marketers are keen to bestow on their brands in the age of Millennial consumerism. And considering the ad was first conceived a year ago, according to AB InBev, you'd probably be right. But with Donald Trump in the White House executing anti-immigration orders, commentators have billed the Budweiser ad as a corporate kickback at presidential overreach.

Whatever the truth, AB InBev won't mind. The controversy will add a few extra zeros to the ad's click count.

Bud Light

AB InBev's other Super Bowl perennial, Bud Light, stays well clear of political controversy despite last year airing a presidential election parody starring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan.

That ad didn't quite catch on, which is perhaps why this year's commercial ditches the celebrity faces and focuses on a personal tale of friendship between two regular American guys. It may be low key, but the sentimental ad stays on the right side of sweet to score a Bud Light success. Still not as good as Arnold Swarzenegger playing table tennis, though.

In a second ad for Bud Light, AB InBev has resurrected the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie, a talking dog that appeared in Super Bowl ads for the brand back in the 80s. This time around, Spuds gives his own take on the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Busch 

AB InBev likes to throw a few new brands into the Super Bowl mix. In 2013, it got behind Budweiser Black Crown (whatever happened to that?) while last year it granted its Belgian-style wheat ale Shock Top a bow. This year, however, one of the company's most well-worn brands is on show for the first time. Busch dates back to 1955 and is synonymous with the Anheuser-Busch company. The ad delivers a fairly traditional Super Bowl experience, with some gently humour and nice shots of the great American outdoors.

Michelob Ultra

AB InBev's Michelob Ultra gets another Super Bowl run-out, staying close to the sport/fitness positioning that has helped the low-carb, low-calorie beer become one of AB InBev's fastest growing in the US last year.

Yellow Tail

The only other alcohol brand preparing for significant airtime during the Super Bowl is the Casella Family Brands-owned Yellow Tail. The wine accounts for 55% of the Australian wine market in the US, but it still found itself frozen out of national advertising at the Super Bowl because of AB InBev's exclusivity clause. So, its marketing agency bought up space in regional markets, to the extent that it believes some 70% of the Super Bowl audience will see the ad. The commercial hasn't yet been released but the fact that it even exists counts as a big success for Casella Family Brands.

Bai

Bai Brands set out to become a full member of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group stable last year, and to celebrate it is stepping up from being a regional advertiser during the Super Bowl to a national one. They also brought Justin Timberlake on board as "chief flavour officer". Questions over what Timberlake will actually do as "CFO" have now been answered – he will star in the company's Super Bowl ad. 

No previews are available for the Bai commercial, but Timberlake has Super Bowl previous, popping up in a Pepsi ad in 2008.

Lifewtr and Pepsi Zero Sugar 

PepsiCo has decided to go sugar-free for this year's Super Bowl, giving its premium bottled water brand Lifewtr some big game airtime. Meanwhile, the half-time show, sponsored by Pepsi and starring Lady Gaga, will focus on Pepsi Zero Sugar. 

Fiji Water

This bottled water brand is owned by the same people that brought Pom Wonderful to market. They seem to have big plans for Fiji Water, demonstrated by this rather captivating Super Bowl ad.