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Advertisers love to spring a surprise or two in their Super Bowl campaigns - anything to get people talking and tweeting. In terms of which beverage companies are taking part, however, 2019 lacks any real shocks.

On the eve of Sunday's championship game between the New England Patriots and the LA Rams, what we have are the usual giant corporations - The Coca-Cola Co, Anheuser-Busch InBev and PepsiCo - preparing to unleash their 30- and 60-second spots in America's most prime of prime-times. Perhaps the rest have been frightened off by the estimated US$5m price tag on 30-seconds of air time, which, as always, is above and beyond the high cost of creating a Super Bowl ad in the first place. 

But, while others stand back, A-B InBev is leaning in with what is reportedly its highest ever investment behind the Super Bowl push. The brewer is spending an estimated US$50m, beating the $42m that Kantor Media figured A-B InBev spent last year.

To find out what that money has bought, here's just-drinks' Super Bowl beverage ad round-up for your low-down on all the big names in Sunday's big game.

ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV

Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer

The companies behind the ads might not be a surprise, but there are a couple of curveballs (wrong sport, I know) among the brands being backed. The most interesting is A-B InBev's Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, which the company has overhauled ahead of its Super Bowl debut. The seltzer now has a new name, a lower abv - down from 6% to 4.5% - and correspondingly-lower sugar levels. A-B InBev, which bought the brand back in 2016, appears confident the seltzer is ready for a wider audience, hence the massive investment of a Super Bowl slot. This confidence also bodes well for the hard seltzer category, which has gone from a niche offshoot of the hard root beer trend to a serious category in its own right.


Budweiser

It's not a Super Bowl without a Budweiser ad - the brand has been ever-present for the past three decades. The Clydesdale horses are back after a break last year and this time are helping to promote Budweiser's recent focus on sustainable energy. Starting last year, Budweiser packaging displays a symbol to show the beer is brewed with 100% renewable electricity.

A-B InBev has also given a spot to Budweiser extension Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager. What's interesting about this is that it marks a Super Bowl entry for Beam Suntory - sort of. The spirits group owns Jim Beam Bourbon, staves from which were used to age Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager. Perhaps conscious of marketing at a sports event, Beam Suntory is staying clear of this advert, although A-B InBev did confirm to just-drinks that the Jim Beam logo, which is used on Copper Lager's packaging, will appear briefly in the ad.

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold 

A-B InBev is also highlighting its eco-credentials with its Michelob Ultra Pure Gold spot. The beer brand was recently certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture, and the Super Bowl ad makes great play with lush, sweeping vistas and cascading waterfalls. It also harnesses the power of audio, with actress and musician Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny) whispering into microphones and tapping her fingernails on glass. If you're not a fan of ASMR - the auditory phenomenon in some people that causes skin to tingle when listening to certain sounds - then I suggest you skip this ad.

Stella Artois 

Nostalgia is a much-used lever for Super Bowl marketers. Unfortunately, when ads raid consumers' much-loved memories to promote their brands, both can end up diminished. Whether that happens in the new Stella Artois ad, which features Jeff Bridges re-enacting his timeless role of the Dude from the Big Lebowski, only you can decide. Sarah Jessica Parker also shows up to stamp a stiletto or two over the legacy of her Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw.

Whatever the ingredients, you can't argue with the results so far: The ad has been viewed more than 12m times in just three days on Stella Artois's YouTube page.

THE COCA-COLA CO

Coke

The world's biggest-selling soft drink will not appear during the Super Bowl itself, despite the game being played in Coca-Cola's home town of Atlanta. Instead, Coke features in a 60-second pre-game ad based around Andy Warhol's famous take on the brand, that it can be enjoyed by anyone, from presidents to famous actresses to you.


PEPSICO

Bubly

This year, PepsiCo is backing its sparkling flavoured water brand, Bubly, no doubt in the hope that it can challenge National Beverages' LaCroix as the king of the zero-sugar category. Bubly only launched last year but has quickly gained an impressive share of the US sparkling water category. The Super Bowl ad, which features Canadian singer Michael Bublé insisting on a mispronunciation of the name of the drink, should take Bubly to an even bigger audience.

Pepsi

PepsiCo brings out the big guns for Pepsi this year. Actor Steve Carell, singer Cardi B and rapper Lil Jon all have fun with the idea that when consumers ask for Coke, a frequent response is "Will Pepsi be okay?" 

Indeed, the ad may owe a creative nod to the Pepsi commercials in 2009's satirical movie, The Invention of Lying, set in a world where people can only tell the truth. This makes for some blunt advertising, and the tagline for Pepsi is simply "Pepsi - When They Don't Have Coke". 

In PepsiCo's world, however, the brand is more than okay, a point hammered home by Carell et al in the new spot.


CASELLA FAMILY WINES

Yellowtail

Australian winery Casella is taking its Yellow Tail wine brand to the Super Bowl for the third consecutive time. The company surprised many when it first made an ad for the big game back in 2017, especially as it had to go around the houses to get it on air. But, Casella will hope the new commercial enjoys as much success. The group credited Yellow Tail's Super Bowl ad with helping to drive a 26% rise in monthly sales in the US for the January of that year.


 


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