Ironically, just last week, we complimented Michelob Ultra on its recent ad contrasting the low-carb beer with carb-heavy white wine. It was a brilliant bid to steal volume from outside the beer category. For two years running, Mich Ultra has been the fastest-growing beer in the country with its very successful advertising touting its low-carbohydrate distinctiveness. Every ad touted the low-carb content. Until now.
So, count the "carbohydrate" mentions in Mich Ultra's minute-long SuperBowl ad.
What happened here?
It seems a brand manager decided the low-carb message had run its course. Whoever she was (press sccounts have identified a female vice president), she had a kindred spirit at Coors back in the late eighties. That was when another marketing guy tried to nix using "Brewed in the Rockies" as the linchpin for new Coors Light advertising. His reasoning? "Everybody already knows that." But his ad agency persevered in its recommendation, and prevailed. Virtually every Coors Light ad since has showcased the Rockies, the heart of that brand's distinctiveness.
Alas, not every ad agency--then or now--champions brand distinctiveness based on product features as key to effective ads. In fact, nowadays it's far more common for the ad-agency guys to push for big entertainment. They'll sweet-talk the gullible Michelob Ultra brand lady with "Everybody already knows about your carbohydrates. You need a big idea to stand out, especially on the SuperBowl where 30 seconds costs $5 million."
By "big idea," they mean an entertaining bit of video, usually with an expensive celebrity, often with humor. The brand manager senses the promised talk-value could be good for her career. While the ad-agency dudes encourage her, they're really out to create something that might win them an award or a mention in a "most liked" poll. Out to further their careers, they can be awfully persuasive.
So Michelob Ultra forfeits the sole reason why anyone would want to buy the brand, and instead green-lights a waste of $10 million.
Talk about a really bad SuperBowl bet.