If you watch sports on TV, beer advertising cannot be avoided. Mostly entertaining, some more than others. Once in a while, those of us in marketing question whether the ads are effective, as in do they help move product. Dos Equis and “The World’s Most Interesting Man” was a good example of success in this field.

Today we read about the other side, as Bud Light recorded its first full-year decline is sales. Consumerist picked up on it in August, and this week Ad Age got into the details…

Shortly after August Busch IV was named CEO of Anheuser-Busch, he accepted a company director’s recommendation for a consulting firm that would assist with managing the brewer’s burgeoning brand portfolio.

The firm, Cambridge Group, ended up going far beyond portfolio management. In fact, its exhaustive research resulted in the “Drinkability” campaign that — four years and millions in fees later — is considered a major factor in Bud Light posting the first full-year sales decline in its history.

The “Drinkability” debacle, however, resonates beyond A-B, as agencies increasingly chafe under the growing influence of consultants. Marketers are under pressure to justify their budgets, and CMOs, skating on ever-thinner ice, are trying to bring a more scientific approach to a discipline traditionally heavily reliant on gut calls. The degree to which these consultants’ recommendations and findings can translate directly into creative is becoming a familiar frustration for agencies.

Excellent report, with typically good comments.

Very few of today’s effort can rival the effectiveness of “Miller Time” or “This Bud’s For You.” And who doesn’t remember “Tastes Great, Less Filling?” I look forward to getting “drinkability” off the air…

The Super Bowl

What do I like about the NFL’s Super Bowl? The ads, of course. When the whistle blows and network cuts to a commercial, I’m the one who “shushes” the room so I can hear it.

The AP ran a story yesterday how the ads will be toned down, but it’s still big:

The Super Bowl remains a unique marketing vehicle because it’s known as much for its commercials as the game itself. A TNS Media survey released this month confirmed that people watch commercials throughout the game, instead of switching channels.

“The Super Bowl remains as truly the only property that has the ability to reach the largest mass audience across all demographics at one time,” said TNS Media CEO Dean DeBiase.

The Hyundai spot featuring Yo-Yo Ma, and the ensuing user-generated content, ought to be interesting:

“I think the people that will respond to the Yo-Yo Ma piece when watching the Super Bowl won’t necessarily be classical music fans,” Goodby, Silverstein & Partners creative director Jim Elliot said. “Within the context of all the other advertising, which can be so chaotic that it almost becomes white noise, a quiet, gorgeous solo cello moment can be very arresting.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t backfire like the Chevy Tahoe “make your own” promotion in 2006.

Budweiser will be there. Remember the “wazzup” spots from 2000? Here’s one of the original spots, followed by an Obama presidential campaign spot from the same actors, eight years later: