As much as the Super Bowl is a tradition in the United States, so are the commercials — and the most noteworthy each year are those from Budweiser. Whether it’s the clydesdales, or the Bud Light Knight, some of the most memorable ads in Super Bowl history come from Anheuser-Busch, but this year is going to be totally different. On Monday the company announced it would not have any Super Bowl ads this year.
According to a report from the Sports Business Journal, Anheuser-Busch is taking the money they would normally spend on ads, and instead donate it to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. It’s unclear at this time what that will look like, though it’s likely we could see a commercial about the importance of vaccination during the game, rather than a memorable beer ad.
The aim nationally is to reach 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days, an effort put forth by the incoming Biden administration. In this scenario 50 million Americans would be vaccinated before summer (considering the Covid-19 vaccine comprises of two doses). Thus far the country is hitting that goal, but there have been criticisms that the goal isn’t aggressive enough to turn the corner quickly, and begin re-opening the country as soon as possible when it’s safe.
There remains misinformation and conspiracy theory surrounding the vaccine. Polling by Pew Research in early December showed that 39 percent of respondents said they would not get vaccinated under any circumstance. Fears over the vaccine range from concerns over its safety during fast-tracked development, to belief it’s unneeded because respondents weren’t in high-risk groups, to ludicrous conspiracies about tracking, or using the vaccine as a form of mass population control.
These are the people Anheuser-Busch would likely aim to reach with an awareness campaign. The idea than the vaccine is safe, effective, and beneficial to society has been discussed at length by the medical community, but promoting at the Super Bowl is a method that would reach wide swathes of people who would otherwise not seek out sold scientific data.
One thing is clear: The last year has been very different, and that will continue into the Super Bowl. We might not have the beer ads we’re used to, but it appears we’re going to get something far, far more meaningful.