Over the decades, Budweiser has tried myriad approaches to refresh its brand in TV advertisements on Super Bowl Sunday, from Bud Bowls to the iconic Clydesdale horses.
For Super Bowl LII on February 4, America’s favorite beer brand will pivot to a new idea and give the Clydesdales a break this year by highlighting the efforts of its employees in time of need.
In its 60-second spot, released Friday, Budweiser shows a real employee—Kevin Fahrenkrog, general manager of the Cartersville, Ga., brewery—responding to a call in the middle of the night to go switch the production line from cans of Bud to Anheuser-Busch branded cans of water for emergency relief.
He’s joined by more than 20 colleagues during the spot. “Whenever you need us,” the ad says, “we’ll stand by you.”
The spot highlights how the company shipped three million cans of water just in 2017 alone to disaster sites that produced some of the year’s most devastating headlines—hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the fires that continue in California.
It has distributed more than 79 million cans of clean drinking water over the past 30 years in response to natural disasters, as Anheuser-Busch notes in a press release.
“This is a story about the incredible people behind our iconic brand,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing for Budweiser.
The accompanying soundtrack is a cover of Ben E. King’s moving classic, Stand By Me, recorded by Skylar Grey specifically for the campaign. A portion of sales from the single will go to the American Red Cross, Bud’s partner in the water relief program.
The commercial is timed to coincide with a new corporate investment in adding a second brewery, located in Ft. Collins, Colo., to its emergency water program to increase disaster relief efforts by the end of the year.
“The same production and logistical capabilities used to can and deliver beer across the country makes the company uniquely equipped to do its small part by providing a vital necessity—clean drinking water,” the company said.
As its social messaging around the Super Bowl campaign notes:
Since 1988, our employees have helped provide more than 79 million cans of water to cities across the U.S. that were impacted by natural disasters. But there’s more to do. By the end of 2018, our brewery in Fort Collins, CO will be joining our brewery in Cartersville, GA to deliver even more clean drinking water to communities in need.
The campaign marks the first Super Bowl spot by the brand since 2001 that won’t include or highlight the Clydesdales, which continue to be a valuable part of the Budweiser story and aren’t being put out to pasture.
Sibling brand Stella Artois is also using its Super Bowl ad time to promote its water-driven CSR partnership—with Water.org, which helps people around the world get access to safe water in their homes through microcredit programs of small, affordable loans.