This year’s edition of the Super Bowl has already come and gone, but our iconic ads will stay in the hearts and minds of our consumers. To make the world’s most memorable ads a reality, many don’t realize it takes a village to pull off such a great advertising feat. Ever wonder what it takes to create and bring a successful Super Bowl spot to life? Our Marketing, Communications and Legal colleagues share what they worked on in preparation for this year’s big game!

Meet Sam Durrant, Director Michelob ULTRA, Madison Pietrowski, Sr. Brand Director Budweiser and Kate Sanner, Brand Director Bud Light Seltzer

How far in advance does work on the Super Bowl ads begin and what makes working on a Super Bowl ad different from a regular campaign?

SAM: We briefed agencies in May and are still crunching to get them done today [2 weeks from game day], so it takes a bit of time! The biggest difference is length and intensity of the process. The ads take much longer than other work – usually about 9 months total – and require many more sign-offs and consultations cross-functionally.

MADISON: Our planning started back in April with a creative brief to 5 different agencies. We went from over 60 ideas down to just 1!

How do you work with other departments to bring these ads to life?

SAM: Because we’re talking about farming and donation programs in the Pure Gold spot, we consulted heavily with a wide array of people from Legal, Corporate Affairs, Government Affairs, and Public Relations, etc.

KATE: We worked closely with our insights team to make sure we were always acting in a consumer first way. Our insights partners help in the upfront development work, and they also help us test different versions of the final edit to understand which ones are resonating the most and how we can best optimize.

What makes working on a Super Bowl ad different from a regular campaign?

MADISON: The level of perfection. Every single detail of the spot must be magnificent. 

KATE: The Super Bowl is the one time of year that consumers actively engage with ads, so the competition is fierce and the expectations are high. You really work hard to not just deliver a brand message, but to do so in a sticky way that will get people talking.    

What’s the most challenging part about working on such a high-visibility project?

SAM: Knowing how many people are involved in the process and how many people are so eagerly waiting for the ads to launch, the hardest part is probably stakeholder management.

KATE: There are a lot of stakeholders, so you need to be very clear in your objectives and ultimately stay rooted in the strategy laid out at the on-set.

What marks a successful ad?

SAM: First and foremost, it needs to deliver on the brief. For Jimmy Works It Out, that meant reshaping how men who drink light beer think about ULTRA, so that they’re proud to trade up to our brand. Secondly, given the Super Bowl is the ad moment of the year, we need to spark a cultural conversation in press and online with consumers. So, creating relatable, shareable content is key.

MADISON: A successful ad simultaneously shapes culture and sells beer. That's the sweet spot.

KATE: Our Super Bowl spot included an A-list celebrity, a new product offering on a highly anticipated brand, comedy and action – all delivered through a unique creative wrapper. And best of all, it delivers a brand message that we know makes people want to purchase Bud Light Seltzer. In my mind, that is a great recipe for success!


Meet Brian Meli, Associate General Counsel at Anheuser-Busch

“Creating a successful Super Bowl campaign is a collaborative effort of give and take. To achieve both commercial and creative goals in a way that doesn’t put company at risk is difficult, but so worth it in the end.”

What is your role in the development of a Super Bowl ad?

I review all brand advertising in the Super Bowl, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold. I also review supporting media, such as digital, Proof of Performance (POP), Out of Home Media (OOH), etc. for legal compliance.

What makes working on a Super Bowl ad different from a regular campaign and what’s the most challenging part? 

Knowing how visible Super Bowl ads are, the biggest difference between them and a regular campaign is the raised stakes and scrutiny. The Super Bowl is what we’re known for – so all eyes are on us. On top of this, the biggest challenge is all the moving parts behind such large campaigns. Stakeholder involvement is at an all-time high, and we need to ensure we’re considering each consumer, partner, wholesaler, etc. accordingly.


Meet Miles Ritenour, Director of Marketing Communications Bud Light

What’s the most challenging part about working on such a high-visibility project?

The stage is so big and the ad placements are so expensive that you cannot miss. That pressure makes it challenging, but it is also motivating. Beyond that, Anheuser-Busch has such a rich history in making iconic Super Bowl spots that you feel obligated to continue that heritage. You want your ad to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the iconic Budweiser and Bud Light commercials of years past.

How do you cut through the noise around the Super Bowl to get visibility for our ads?

I think it comes down to delivering a message that matters to people and staying true to our brand’s voice. For Bud Light, we’re here to entertain you and give you a laugh during the Super Bowl. Our ads hopefully bring a little more fun to your world.

For Budweiser, you’re looking at an American icon that might make you shed a tear, but at the end of the day, you’re proud to drink that beer and proud of the American spirit.

And finally, for Michelob ULTRA – you’re looking to entertain and remind people that they can have a balanced lifestyle while still staying fit.

If you stay true to your brand identity, put out a piece of content that entertains people and talks to them like a person, you will cut through the clutter.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work on the Super Bowl Ads?

I just think the one thing I want people to know is that it takes so many people at our company to make the Super Bowl a success. Often times, those people who make the ads get a lot of the glory, but there are so many people behind-the-scenes who make this a reality. It’s a true team effort.

An ad may only run for 30 seconds give or take, but its impact can last a lifetime. Sam, Madison, Kate, Brian and Miles, as well as every other colleague involved in the Super Bowl, make sure it does. Thank you to everyone who brings these memorable moments to life during the big game!