Super Bowl commercials are renowned for their significance to a corporation’s marketing spend annually. The audience is unprecedented for a television event and studies have shown that the investment pays off for a brand throughout the year in increased revenue. Every year, there are a few brands that tie in a give-back component to their commercial but this year, we expected that more so than ever. From the Black Lives Matter Movement to the pandemic and quarantines, there was plenty of issues to choose from. But Budweiser made a different decision this year and this is CSR that we love!
For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser is forgoing its spot and spend for a Super Bowl ad. They are moving the reported $5.7 million towards COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education. Some may think this is a missed opportunity because of the way the audience will be watching the game this year. However others believe that audiences will be watching much closer since most will be at home in quieter surroundings versus previous years at loud, packed parties or bars. We think their decision was a great move and it is CSR we love. Here’s why:
Sensitive to the Moment
Oftentimes pulling back and giving space to other voices is an incredibly strong way to set yourself apart. We are not suggesting a corporation make no public statement when there are significant social issues, in fact quite the opposite. But we think it was wise for Budweiser to realize that making a tongue-in-cheek commercial wouldn’t’ be appropriate right now and similarly, making a more sensitive commercial would not stand out in an already crowded and busy ad space. Their CSR has chosen alternate platforms to share their message.
Authentic vs. Self Interest
It does not take a business strategy expert to realize that Budweiser has personal gain by helping to gain widespread acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine leading to the hopeful end of the pandemic. With bars and restaurants closed, and with decreased capacity and parties at a minimum, the consumption of the product has gone down. So, yes, Budweiser’s decision has a financial basis to it. However, we think this is authentic and doesn’t come across as purely self-interested. They don’t make any claims that they don’t stand to benefit and the program has nationwide potential benefits that surpass this one company. It is smart business and thoughtful for humankind. A strong CSR strategy is tied to ROI and not just good feels.
Much of the CSR we typically see around the Super Bowl is tied to that day, or at best, that week. It rarely thinks beyond the potential actions that viewers might take around and after the Super Bowl. Budweiser’s gamble prioritizes discussion of their decision to not be present day of, but more than anything, thinks beyond the week of the Super Bowl into a bigger picture. Good CSR is thoughtful of the current moment, and mindful of the frame it finds itself in
Makes a Statement
We love bold CSR. Small or simple commitments are often easy for businesses to make. We are impressed by those that see the importance of the many issues our communities are facing and make a strong statement about them. Budweiser stepping back for the first time in decades from a marketing decision that is known to increase their revenue makes a big statement.
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