Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly
Sarah Theodore
Viewers who tune into the Super Bowl next month may be in for a disappointment — at least the ones who think the game’s usual cutting-edge advertising is as entertaining as the show on the field. It seems last year’s Janet Jackson/ Justin Timberlake halftime show “wardrobe malfunction,” and the flood of viewer complaints it unleashed, is having an impact on advertisers during this year’s broadcast. Big name Super Bowl sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo still plan to shell out an average of $2.4 million per 30-second ad, but according to a report in The New York Times, they will be toned down and very careful in their messages.
“You won’t see some of the more ‘out there’ creative you saw last year,” a sports marketing executive told the newspaper. “This is going to be a big ‘G for general rating’ Super Bowl.”
Maybe it was viewers’ disdain at seeing too much of Janet, or maybe the seemingly endless tastelessness of reality television finally has pushed them to the limit. Advertising is hardly the most offensive thing on the small screen today, but the companies that advertise are much easier targets than the creators of crass programming. Either way, it seems advertisers have been put on notice that more decorum will be expected this year.
Beer battle gets ugly
But it isn’t only viewers who are exerting control over the airwaves — at least one major company is flexing some muscle, too. Anheuser-Busch last month pressed the four national networks to stop running SABMiller advertising that claimed Miller Lite tastes better than Bud Light, and at least two of them agreed. A-B contended the claims were unsubstantiated and based on flawed testing that biased results in Miller’s favor. It filed a similar complaint over Coors ads that compared the taste of Aspen Edge to Michelob Ultra.
I’d personally rather see A-B hit back with some great marketing of its own than see it defensively pick apart competitors’ advertising. After all, this is one of the most creative companies in the industry, with marketing that has not only sold product but become embedded in American pop-culture. And it overlooks the reason Miller’s ads have been successful — it’s not the taste comparison, but the irreverent humor that has resonated with viewers.
But the networks may have had the last word in this battle. After agreeing to pull the Miller ads, ABC and ESPN reportedly refused to air new A-B advertising that spoofs Miller’s campaign, saying A-B could not parody ads that were no longer running on their networks.
With the way it’s shaping up so far, companies that choose television as their medium might find 2005 marked more by what they do not say on the air than what they do. BI

Sneak Peek
Special Report — Health & wellness
Category Focus — RTD coffee and tea
Marketing — P.O.P. strategies
Beverage R&D — Flavor survey
Packaging — RFID update
Category Focus — Annual soft drink report
Packaging — Mass merchandiser packaging
Marketing — Seasonal marketing
Beverage R&D — R&D testing equipment

 Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Beverage Industry.  

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Top Beverage Flavors of 2014

Traditional flavors make up a large portion of beverage-makers’ selections, but tropical and exotic ones aren’t trailing too far behind. That’s according to research by BNP Media’s Market Research Division for Beverage Industry’s 2014 Product Development Outlook survey. Also see what's anticipated for top-selling flavors of 2015.

Click here to view the infographic in PDF format.

2/18/15 2:00 pm EST

A Healthy Future: Analyzing the latest health and wellness trends in the beverage market

The beverage marketplace continues to evolve to meet new trends and regulations. Our expert speakers will share with you their insight on what health and wellness topics will be paramount for the future success in the beverage industry.


Gert van Manen, president of iTi Tropicals Inc., shares his insights on the U.S. coconut water market. Citing research from Krueger Food Laboratories, he also supplies information highlighting the difference between products that declare their added sugars and those that do not.

Beverage Industry Magazine

BI February 2015 cover

2015 February

The February 2015 Beverage Industry includes a cover story on Bai Brands, as well as articles about calorie moderation, sparkling and premium wines, and more. Check it out today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Wine Trends

Which trend will have the most positive impact on the wine category in 2015?
View Results Poll Archive


Cleaning-in-Place: Dairy, Food and Beverage Operations, 3rd Edition

This book addresses the principles of cleaning operations, water supply issues and the science of detergents and disinfectants.

More Products

Beverage Insider eNewsletter

Are you an Insider? Subscribe to Beverage Industry’s weekly e-newsletter to receive news headlines, new product information and magazine highlights.   


facebook40 twitter    youtubelinkedgoogle+ icon 40px


Beverage Industry Webinars are an easy, effective and convenient way to get educated and informed on the latest industry trends and topics. All Webinars are FREE unless indicated. For more information, check out our Events page!