Although the Super Bowl has long served as a stage for brands to deploy celebrity endorsements while dropping millions of dollars on seconds of airtime, spirits is a relatively new entrant to the Super Bowl. For instance, this year Rémy Martin showed up on the scene with its inaugural “Inch By Inch” ad featuring tennis star Serena Williams.

During this year’s big game, Williams also appeared onscreen, yet again, during a Michelob ULTRA commercial — this time, however, on the golf course with Brian Cox, Tony Romo, Alex Morgan, Canelo Alvarez and Nneka Ogwumike in a playful round on the green.

Yet, when it comes to advertising — beer, wine and spirits — brands are becoming more cautious when it comes to ad spending across media channels, including TV, print, online and mobile, according to a recent study by MediaRadar, New York.

MediaRadar analyzed a sample from national TV broadcasts, national print publications and newspapers from top designated marketing areas, as well as online channels like websites, over-the-top (OTT) channels, podcasts, social platforms and YouTube. The data pertains to Jan. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2023, the company notes.

“According to MediaRadar’s data sample, ad spend on alcohol in 2022 decreased by 17% from 2021,” it says. “Over 2,200 alcohol advertisers invested nearly $1.7 billion on 3,300 beer, wine and spirits brands during 2022, compared to 2,400 advertisers that spent over $1.9 billion the previous year.”

Further, nearly half of the brands that advertised in 2021 (48%) did not return in 2022, the company says.

“Alcohol brands really ramped up their advertising during the pandemic when the demand was at its peak,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar, in a statement. “Now in a post pandemic world, our data shows that alcohol companies are being more cautious with their advertising budgets and may be exploring other forms of marketing or advertising to reach their target audience. The demand for alcohol is there but advertisers are being more strategic on where to allocate their budget.”

To gauge the state of advertising for beer, wine and spirit brands, MediaRadar identifies key patterns and findings, as follows:

Ad spend for tequila brands increases 

MediaRadar’s data sample revealed that in January 2023, more than 380 alcohol advertisers invested $69.3 million, an 18% decrease from January 2022, it says. Meanwhile, ad spend from beer brands decreased 14% and whiskey brands 34%, it notes. However, other forms of alcohol saw year-over-year (YoY) increases:

  • Tequila brands increased by 355%, with Bacardi’s Patron and Becle brands both increasing by more than 1,000%
  • Vodka advertisers increased by 72%
  • Winemakers increased by 21% 

Vodka brands among top spenders in 2022

Of the $1.7 billion spent last year, $1.6 billion (86%) was spent by vodka, beer, whiskey, hard seltzer and wine brands, according to MediaRadar. Advertising for beer brands nearly reached $760 million as opposed to the $261 million spent by whiskey brands, the next-highest category, it notes.

  • Vodka ($104 million) increased by 5%, the only major category to see gains. This was buoyed by a 76% YoY increase from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, and a similar 28% YoY increase in Q3.
  • Beer decreased by 2% from 2021 to 2022
  • Whiskey decreased by 20%
  • Hard seltzer ($173 million) decreased by 41%
  • Wine ($125 million) decreased by 24%

Most advertising dollars go toward TV

In January 2023, alcohol advertisers invested $49 million (71%) toward TV ads compared with $17.5 million toward digital media and $2.5 million to print publications, according to MediaRadar. 

“Alcohol companies’ digital media ads increased 10% YoY. TV ad spend decreased 23% compared to January 2022 and print was 40% YoY lower,” the company says.