In this blog post, Maik Dünnbier reveals how much alcohol companies spent on their marketing campaigns during and around Super Bowl 2023.
This year’s Super Bowl was historic because the dominant beer advertiser AB InBev relinquished its iron grip and opened for more alcohol industry competitors to advertise during Super Bowl. Maik shares data and analysis about how much airtime alcohol ads received, what it cost, and what it all means.
Super Bowl 2023 was the venue of a beer and booze war that is only accelerating. Maik shares analysis of two key aspects of this booze war and what we can expect from alcohol companies going forward.

We are all exposed to enormous volumes of alcohol advertising during live sports broadcasts each year. Alcohol companies are investing billions to make sure they reach children, youth, and adults through sports. And they do so to drive consumption of their products and maximize profits.

In 2015, I wrote a blog post with an overview of major sports events in that year – and how these iconic sports events are platforms for the alcohol industry to market their brands and promote alcohol use.

As we try to enjoy athletic achievements, the drama, glamour, and inspiration of sports stars reaching their limits – and often going beyond them – the alcohol industry invests aggressively to link their harmful products to all the positive emotions, experiences, and attributes that come with elite athletic performances and events.

Researchers shows that as sports fans are repeatedly exposed to alcohol advertising and sponsorship, this has a long-term effect on their alcohol use.

What we showed is that alcohol advertising and sponsorship not only send a message directly encouraging people to consume alcohol, but tends to implicitly and/or unconsciously associate a product, like beer, within a specific context of going to the football or watching a sports match on television,” said the study’s co-author, Professor Kerry O’Brien, from Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, as per Eureka Alert.

Professor Kerry O’Brien, School of Social Sciences, Monash University

The popular appeal of elite sports events and the performance of athletes is a cash cow for the alcohol industry. Alcohol companies invest aggressively to push their products through sports.

For example:

The alcoholic industry is reported to have spent more than $600 million on sports sponsorship alone, worldwide in 2020, according to Statista.

That makes alcohol companies rank eighth among the biggest industrial spenders on sports advertising.

0.62 Billion
Worldwide alcohol sports sponsorship spending by alcohol companies
The alcohol industry ranked 8th among the biggest industrial spenders on sports advertising worldwide in 2020. Alcohol companies spent more than $600 million on sports sponsorship, worldwide in 2020.

For Big Alcohol and their brands, sport sponsorship and advertising during sports events is one of the keystones of their overall marketing activities.

A 2022 study from Australia illustrates how alcohol companies try to exploit sports to promote consumption of their products. The study found that the top ten alcohol companies placed 10,660 alcohol ads during Australian sports broadcasts over a 12-month period.

This amounts to an average of 75 minutes of alcohol advertising each week. Almost half (45%) of the alcohol ads aired during children’s viewing times (before 8.30pm).

Alcohol advertising during sports to reach Australian children
the top ten alcohol companies placed 10,660 alcohol ads during Australian sports broadcasts over a 12-month period. Almost half (45%) of the alcohol ads aired during children’s viewing times (before 8.30pm).

In Movendi International we have developed a Special Feature to better explain how and why Big Alcohol is deploying alcohol marketing through sports. In the Special Feature, we include three case studies of how the alcohol industry uses sports to reach its profit maximization goal.

And Super Bowl 2023 is yet another example to tell this story.

Super Bowl as platform for corporations

The story is the same for Super Bowl – just supercharged.

The Super Bowl is the annual final playoff game of the National Football League (NFL) to determine the league champion. The Super Bowl is among the world’s most-watched single sporting events and frequently commands the largest audience among all U.S. American broadcasts during the year. For instance, the seven most-watched broadcasts in U.S. American television history are Super Bowls broadcasts, according to Wikipedia. The Super Bowl also reaches a global audience beyond the United States: It is second only to the UEFA Champions League final as the most watched annual club sporting event worldwide.

Commercial viewership has become an integral part of the event. Commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year because of the high viewership. The opportunity to reach millions of people causes companies to regularly develop their most expensive advertisements for the Super Bowl broadcast. The Super Bowl is also the second-largest event for American food consumption, behind Thanksgiving dinner.

Super Bowl XLIX (2015) holds the record for average number of U.S. viewers, with 114.4 million, making the game the most-viewed television broadcast of any kind in American history.

The halftime show set a record with 118.5 million viewers tuning in. Super Bowl XLIX peaked at 120.8 million viewers.

114 Million
Record for average number of U.S. viewers
The 2015 Super Bowl holds the record for average number of U.S. viewers, with 114.4 million. Viewership peaked at 120.8 million viewers.

The Super Bowl is reliably the year’s most-watched broadcast, a status that reflects football’s dominant role in contemporary culture, according to David Leonhard of the New York Times.

An estimated 113.06 million viewers were tuned in for Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, according to average audience estimates from Nielsen.

The Super Bowl LVII telecast ran from 6:44 PM ET to 10:14 PM ET and averaged nearly 112.2 million viewers on FOX. An additional 882,000 watched the Spanish broadcast on FOX Deportes.

113 Million
2023 Super Bowl viewership
Nielsen reported on February 14, 2023 that Super Bowl LVII was watched by 113 million viewers of the FOX and FOX Deportes (Spanish) broadcast.

With this broad cultural appeal and significant viewership numbers, the Super Bowl is a unique platform for corporations to reach millions of people. And corporate advertising campaigns have become a staple of Super Bowl broadcasts. Famous Super Bowl commercials include the 1984 introduction of Apple’s Macintosh computer, the Budweiser “Bud Bowl” campaign, and the dot-com ads aired during Super Bowl XXXIV (2000).

Nielsen reports that Super Bowl LVII ranks as the second most-watched Super Bowl ever, behind only Super Bowl XLIX, when the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1, 2015. 

For the alcohol industry this means that the Super Bowl is a key platform to reach millions of people with the brand promotions. And alcohol companies are heavily invested in Super Bowl:

  • In 2020, alcohol companies were the second leading spender on advertising during the Super Bowl in the United States, after the automobile industry, according to Statista.
    • The alcohol industry spent $42 million on alcohol advertising during the Super Bowl.
  • In 2022, the beer and wine industry alone were the fourth leading spender on advertisinf during the Super Bowl in the United States, according to Statista.
    • Beer and wine companies spent almost $45 million on advertising during the Super Bowl.

Television ratings of the Super Bowl have steadily increased over the years, driving commercial prices for advertising up.

For example, in 2022 advertisers paid as much as $7 million for a thirty-second spot during Super Bowl LVI.

7 Million
Cost for Super Bowl advertising spot
In 2022, a thirty-second spot during Super Bowl LVI cost $7 Million.

A segment of the audience tunes into the Super Bowl only to view commercials. In 2010, Nielsen reported that 51% of Super Bowl viewers tuned in for the commercials. This guarantees corporations, such as alcohol producers, high numbers of exposure and return on the expensive investments in their Super Bowl advertising campaigns.

NBC listed the costs of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial in previous years:

  • 2020: $5.6 million
  • 2019: $5.3 million
  • 2018: $5.2 million
  • 2017: $5 million
  • 2016: $4.5 million
  • 2015: $4.25 million

AB InBev dominates Super Bowl 2023 airwaves – as in years past

The Super Bowl has been tightly linked to the Budweiser beer brand for decades. That’s because beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) – which owns Budweiser and other beer brands, such as Corona, Busch Light, and Stella Artois – has possessed exclusive advertising rights to the Super Bowl in the alcohol category since 1988.

And at least for a decade, AB InBev product promotions have dominated the Super Bowl. Two of their beer brands rank in the top three for leading advertisers during the Super Bowl between 2010 and 2020, according to Statista.

The Bud Light brand ran the most in-game Super Bowl commercials between 2010 and 2020. This AB InBev beer brand aired 26 ads. PepsiCo brand Doritos followed with 19 Super Bowl ads between 2010 and 2020. Budweiser, AB InBev’s other beer brand ranked third with 18 commercials in the same time period.

©Statista: “Leading Super Bowl advertisers between 2010 and 2020, by number of ads shown” (published Jan. 6, 2023)

AB InBev’s heavy spending to exclusively dominate alcohol advertising during Super Bowl has had impact on society in the United States in multiple ways:

  • Normalization of alcohol;
  • Driving consumption of Budweiser and other AB InBev products;
  • Securing market dominance;
  • Perpetuating a pervasive alcohol norm; and
  • Making beer appear integral and even synonymous with American Football.

Also in 2023 AB InBev spent aggressively on beer commercials, creating an onslaught of ads totalling three and a half minutes of airtime. This means the beer giant has more advertising time than any other single advertiser, according to Time reporting.

Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, AB InBev has purchased more ads during the game than any other company, by far.

But in 2023 Anheuser-Busch InBev revised its Super Bowl ad campaign, with the decision not to renew its exclusive sponsorship deal for the NFL’s annual showpiece. With this decision to scale back that partnership, AB InBev aims to more evenly deploy its marketing spend.

In December 2021, the beer giant extended its partnership with the NFL, with the deal reportedly worth more than US$250 million per year. Last March it was also announced that Bud Light would have a presence at all major NFL events during the past offseason.

All alcohol industry advertisers at Super Bowl 2023

But in 2023 AB InBev is not alone anymore. The beer giant – the largest beer company in the world – has relinquished its iron grip on the Super Bowl. For the first time in three decades alcohol industry competitors will be allowed to use one the biggest stages in advertising.

The list of alcohol industry advertising campaigns during Super Bowl 2023 reads like a who is who of Big Alcohol:

  1. Anheuser-Busch InBev (Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light),
  2. Diageo (Crown Royal),
  3. Heineken (Heineken 0.0),
  4. Molson Coors, and
  5. Rémy Cointreau.

The Drum reported that AB InBev would return to Super Bowl 2023 with its Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light brands. Four advertising spots for its leading portfolio brands would total three and a half minutes of national air time for the beerhemoth.

AB InBev’s brands will be competing for attention with other alcohol industry brands for the first time since 1988 after the beer giant gave up its exclusive advertising rights this year.

The Drum reported, liquor giant Diageo will make its Super Bowl debut with a 60-second spot for Crown Royal whiskey, featuring Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters frontman.

Heineken would use the Super Bowl to advertise “the first non-alcoholic adult beverage”. The spot, which ran in the game’s first half, was co-produced by Marvel Studios’ partnerships team and involved Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man. The 30-second Super Bowl ad co-promotes Heineken’s non-alcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0, as well as Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, according to The Drum.

The fourth Big Alcohol giant, Molson Coors aired its first Super Bowl ad in 30 years, according to The Drum. Part of the marketing campaign is gambling. Consumers could bet on sportsbook DraftKings for a chance to win a portion of a $500,000 prize pool. Molson Coors attempted to promote their beer by making consumers guess which brand would appear in the spot, as well as making consumers bet on other details in the commercial, like the first beer it would mention, the type of dog behind the bar and how many people in the ad will have facial hair.

The Drum reported, Rémy Cointreau would return to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive year following a recent rise in consumer interest. However, this time around, the cognac maker advertized their Rémy Martin brand in the Super Bowl for the first time. Rémy Martin leveraged the Super Bowl to attract a younger audience. The liquor giant purchased the participation of Serena Williams for the campaign called ‘Inch by Inch’. The 60-second spot, ran during the first quarter of the game. In addition to the TV spot, the brand hosted a series of sampling events in over 2,000 liquor stores and wine shops. They also arranged 60 big events leading up to the Super Bowl, according to The Drum.

Alcohol advertisnig dominates Super Bowl airwaves

The New York Times predicted a “flood of beer and [other] alcohol ads in Sunday’s national broadcast.”

Based on an AdAge overview of all Super Bowl 2023 ads, Movendi International analyzed how much alcohol industry commercials dominated the Super Bowl airwaves.

And the numbers reveal the alcohol advertising dominance of the airwaves.

  • There were 52 commercials during the 4 quarters and halftime.
    • Of those ads 8 commercials were for alcohol products.
  • Out of a total of 2297 advertising seconds (ca. 38 minutes), alcohol industry brands alone took up 361 seconds (ca. 6 minutes).
  • 15% of all Super Bowl ads were alcohol commercials.

Eight alcohol commercials, for 361 seconds, with the cost of $7 million per 30 seconds means the alcohol industry nearly doubled their spending on alcohol advertising during the 2023 Super Bowl, compared to 2022.

84 Million
Alcohol industry spending on advertising during 2023 Super Bowl
Alcohol companies spent more than $84 million on advertising during the Super Bowl, for 8 commercials and in total 361 seconds of alcohol ads.

The alcohol industry spent big on both national and regional activations

In addition to aggressive spendign at the national level that made AB InBev the game’s largest advertising spender, the beer giant also bought 30 seconds of regional commercial time.

A commercial for “Bud” riffed on the “six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon”, with the actor’s narration. It aired in key markets for AB InBev.

Boston Beer Company ran a commercial for its Sam Adams brand in the Boston area – another example for regional activations during Super Bowl 2023.

Big Alcohol was big on celebrities for their Super Bowl 2023 ads

Alcohol brands leaned heavily on celebrities to promote their products.

  • Serena Williams, Brian Cox, Nneka Ogwumike, Jimmy Butler, Alex Morgan, Tony Romo and Canelo Álvarez (Michelob Ultra, AB InBev),
  • Serena Williams (Rémy Martin, Rémy Cointreau),
  • Tony Romo, Rickie Fowler and Alex Morgan, and co-promotion for Netflix’s new docuseries “Full Swing” (Michelob Ultra, AB InBev),
  • Actor Paul Rudd, and co-promotion with Marvel Studios for the new movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Heineken 0.0, Heineken),
  • Actor Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh Sperry Teller (Bud Light, AB InBev),
  • Musician Dave Grohl (Crown Royal, Diageo),
  • 90s singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan (Busch Light, AB InBev),
  • Actor Kevin Bacon (Budweiser, AB InBev), and
  • Former Basketball star Kevin Garnett (Sam Adams, Boston Beer Company).

Copmanies that spend big on Super Bowl ads are ensuring they maximize viewership and engagement among Gen Z through either television or social media. 

Television advertising is largely measured on impressions, and impressions only become a needle-moving metric through repeat exposure, over time. That is why advertisiers, such as alcohol companies are releasing full spots or extended cuts early to drive broadened reach, explained Margo Kahnrose, CMO at Skai, an omnichannel platform for performance marketing, as per Digiday.

Super Bowl ads are a safe bet for alcohol companies to ensure repeat exposure. Often they become cultural phenomena, are part of public discussions for a long time, and enter mainstream cultural conversation.

For example, news as well as cultural and sports media all report about the commercials – doing the job for the alcohol industry to expose more people over a long time to alcohol promotions.

That’s why we have added the AdAge Rating for the alcohol commercials. It reveals the cultural significance alcohol ads are getting – and how the harm they are causing is glossed over and ignored.

Media outlets are helping the alcohol industry to reach even more people by re-publishing the ads, commenting, and ranking their appeal – and ignoring the harm they cause.

Good examples of bad journalism* are:

Advertising SpotTime QuarterAdAge Rate
Limit Break30
Michelob Ultra, 
New Members Day”
Rémy Martin, 
“Inch by Inch”
The Servant 
Christian Foundation
Avocados From
Michelob Ultra, 
“Episode Gossip”
Molson Coors, 
“High Stakes Beer Ad”
“No Shrinking and Drinking”
The Farmer’s 
General Motors/
Bud Light, “Hold”604
Crown Royal, 
“Thank You Canada”
Busch Light, 
“The Busch Guide: Shelter”
The Servant 
Christian Foundation
Ram Trucks60
Total2297 Sec. 361 Sec. alcohol industry

The Super Bowl booze wars – two dimensions

As the floodgates opened for even more alcohol ads during Super Bowl a new era of advertising for the Big Game has arrived.

The Super Bowl remains the most important event on the advertising calendar in the United States.

In the two weeks surrounding the game in 2022, more than $1.6 billion was spent on beer, hard cider and malt beverages.

More than 60 million cases of those alcoholic drinks were sold, according to Nielsen IQ.

$1.6 Billion
Spending on alcohol around Super Bowl 2022
In the two weeks surrounding the Super Bowl in 2022, more than $1.6 billion was spent on beer, hard cider and malt beverages. More than 60 million cases of those alcoholic drinks were sold.

Companies are competing for this spending and consumption. That is why alcohol companies turned Super Bowl 2023 into a booze war.

1. Reach and maximizing returns on advertising spending

While beerhemoth AB InBev had exclusive advertising rights to the Big Game in the alcohol category since 1988, Super Bowl advertising in the alcohol landscape has not been exclusive in the past five years. As regional ads emerged and then digital activations, alcohol companies found ways to link their products to the Super Bowl and to exploit the event for promotion of the use of their products.

AB InBev has relinquished its exclusive rights but it has not taken a step back. In fact, the beer giant is recalibrating its strategy to squeeze greater returns out of its advertising spending.

“Greater returns” from the heavy spending on advertising means more consumption and profits. It means greater harm for people and communities.

It’s not necessarily the smartest play these days to pile so much investment into a few in-game Super Bowl ads, or in the case of Anheuser-Busch, to pay up for exclusivity,” says Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, a US-based business newsletter covering the beverages industry, as per The Drum reporting.

Brands like Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo in recent years have learned there is mileage to be gained by investing in smart marketing before and after the game. That also means shifting some Super Bowl spending to targeted ads in regional markets where your core beer [consumers] sit, and to digital where the next generation of consumers live.”

Duane Stanford, editor and publisher, Beverage Digest

On top of this more aggressive approach of the Super Bowl top advertiser, other alcohol industry giants are gearing up, too. AB InBev competitors, such as Molson Coors, Heineken, and Diageo, have identified the opportunity to attack AB InBev’s dominance and to drive brand recognition and consumption.

But this is not a small investment, not even for Big Alcohol. With high prices for advertising space and heavy spending comes great reach – which is what alcohol companies crave.

To offer a sense of scope: In 2022, the NFL estimated that more than 208 million people tuned into Super Bowl LVI.

According to Mediapost reporting, with the relinquishment of category exclusivity by AB InBev, the other alcohol advertisers did all they could to spend on Super Bowl LVII spots for the first time in decades. 

For us, it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Marcelo Proenca Pascoa, the global vice president for Coors’ brands, according to USA Today reporting.

The approach is, if you have to wait 30 more years to be in the game, what we do now has to be so great that it makes it count for the next 30 years.

The challenge now is to do something so remarkable that it’s going to surprise people. Soon, we will reveal more. When we do that, I think it will be pretty clear it will be something we’ve never done before.”

Marcelo Proenca Pascoa, global vice president, Coors brands
Via The Drum: Molson Coors – alongside a handful of other alcohol category players – will be back in full force at this year’s Big Game / Molson Coors

Rival beer brands waited three decades for this opportunity and they spent big to reach millions of people.

The Super Bowl is the largest beer-selling moment outside of summer and that’s why we’ve spent so much energy inserting ourselves into the conversation over three decades, sneaking in through side doors or chimneys or any other way we could,” a Molson Coors spokesperson tells The Drum.

We couldn’t turn down the opportunity to get back into the game through the front door this year.”

Molson Coors spokesperson

In an unlikely union of legacy brand and nascent industry, Molson Coors partnered with DraftKings to allow fans to wager on which brand – Coors or Miller – will be featured on game day. The promotion lured more than 70,000 sign-ups in its first week.

We don’t just look at it as a 30-second spot. We think of this as a really big moment for us, as an organization,” said Sofia Colucci, global vice president for Miller’s family of brands, as per Yahoo Finance.

We see this as an opportunity to galvanize not just these brands but the entire company and look at it holistically – not just in the 30 seconds but in everything we do.”

Sofia Colucci, global vice president Miller’s brands

But it is important to remember that the new beer and booze commercials compete with heavy investments from AB InBev in Super Bowl advertising.

… Anheuser-Busch has been and will continue to be the single largest advertiser in the Super Bowl,” says Daniel Blake, group vice president of mainstream brands at Anheuser-Busch, as per USA Today.

The three minutes nationally and 30 seconds regionally is by far the most amount of airtime among any single advertiser. We’re still showing up in a huge, huge way in the big game.”

Daniel Blake, group vice president of mainstream brands, Anheuser-Busch InBev

All this means more alcohol advertisers, using Super Bowl attention and reach to target specific groups, and expose millions of people to an avalanche of alcohol commercials. Spending big to reach as many people as possible, over a long period of time, with the objective to maximize the returns on this massive advertising spending – this formula is not super-charged because multiple alcohol companies follow it.

2. Market share, market dominance, and the way to consumption and profit maximization

Reach and maximizing returns on advertising spending is the first dimension of the booze war that played out around Super Bowl 2023. But there’s another dimension, too.

A new economic study from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the liquor industry’s lobby front group in the U.S., shows that distilled spirits have overtaken beer concerning the seize of alcohol market shares.

©Statista: “Sales market share of the United States alcohol industry from 2000 to 2022, by beverage” (published Feb. 16, 2023)

In 2022, beer accounted for an estimated 41.9% of the U.S. alcohol industry market. While the wine market has remained relatively stable in recent years, the market share of beer has gotten smaller in favor of spirits. The study noted that distilled spirits accounted for a 42.1% share of the beverage alcohol market in 2022, based on supplier revenue.

It’s the first time that liquor tops beer, according to the data. But the two-decade trend line shows why the different alcohol companies are fighting this booze and brews war.

It is not “just” beer companies fighting to drive consumption, target children and youth, convert alcohol abstainers into beer consumer, and rake in windfall profits.

It is also liquor and beer companies fighting a similar fight: Big Beer trying to defend and expand its market shares and Big Liquor trying to take over.

Concerning the DISCUSS data, there is an important caveat:

Erin Donar, a spokesperson for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), said that while the NBWA hasn’t reviewed the current DISCUS report. Ms Donar noted, as per Morningstar:

The full beer and alcohol numbers for 2022 are not yet available so (the DISCUS) data is likely incomplete. Generally, alcohol data is notoriously difficult to track.” 

Erin Donar, spokesperson, National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA)

The Super Bowl is one of the few live events that people watch to see the ads.

And liquor companies, such as Diageo and Rémy Cointreau, were also ready to push their products.

Rémy Martin attempted to attract a younger audience by making use of social media, digital out-of-home ads and the Super Bowl itself. Rémy Martin deployed Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and a 60-second ad spot featuring Serena Williams with the goal of capturing the attention of Gen Z sports fans to the brand, a similar move to Google’s recent digital OOH campaign.

Rémy Martin drove engagement with over 60 client-facing events in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Arizona and other locations, according to Digiday.

The liquor brand also deployed over 2,000 digital OOH displays across strategic locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York from Super Bowl weekend through July.

According to Pathmatics data, the brand spent a little over $8.1 million in 2022. The data also showed that it spent $1.2 million on Facebook, $1.6 million on Instagram and $1 million on OOH displays last year.

All this advertising spending is geared towards making more people buy more of the product, as Digiday reports: Rémy Martin is currently working on a dedicated e-commerce plan for Eboutique, Reservebar and Instacart that will be launched in the months to come.

Molson Coors has built a multi-week campaign on their own. It tried and tries to maximize the drama about which brand – or perhaps both – would be featured, a heavily guarded decision that falls under the purview of chief marketing officer Michelle St. Jacques.

There is growing value for brands in pre- and post-Super Bowl marketing activations that come at lower price tags.

The heavy spending on Super Bowl ads combined with the multi-weeks campaigns, and the links to online slaes platforms and on-demand delivery indicate that Super Bowl marketing is about driving sales and consumption. And it spells more alcohol marketing during the whole year by aggressively competing companies:

For example, AB InBev is reallocating some of their marketing spending from Super Bowl exclusivity to spread out throughout other key parts of the year, such as summer, as per The Drum reporting.

And data from the National Beer Wholesalers Association reveals why: 40% of total annual beer sales happen from May to August.

May – August period drives beer sales
40% of total annual beer sales happen from May to August, according to data from the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

When alcohol companies fight for market dominance, it means they aim to recruit new users and make current alcohol users consume more alcohol, more often.

Competing for attention and driving consumption

We of course need to make sure that we capture attention and entertain for those 30 seconds on air, but ultimately, our focus is about engaging consumers early on and giving them reason to reach for our brands and our beer during the Super Bowl season and throughout the rest of the year,” said a spokesperson for Molson Coors, as per The Drum.

We want to build our brands, and we want to sell beer,” the spokesperson says.

Molson Coors spokesperson

The sales of both Miller Lite and Coors Lite have outpaced those of Bud Light in recent years and the Super Bowl is certainly viewed by Molson Coors as an opportunity to gain more ground, according to David Steinman, vice-president and executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, The Drum reports.

At the same time, Michelob Ultra sales have been outperforming all of the mega brand light lagers for many years running, surpassing Coors Light by volume in 2022 for the first time.”

David Steinman, vice-president and executive editor, Beer Marketer’s Insights

The Super Bowl advertising frenzy illustrates the competition between Big Beer companies and between Big Beer and Big Liquor. And it spells more aggressive practices for these companies to achieve returns on their expensive spending: more alcohol consumers, more often and frequently, during the whole year.

Already in 2021, an industry-insider report revealed that alcohol advertising spending will grow by 5.3% faster than the market in 2021, as the hospitality industry opens up after COVID-19 restrictions. As the report shows, the alcohol industry will spend twice as much on television as the average advertising spending, readying an avalanche of alcohol ads in 12 major markets.

Harms from alcohol marketing during sports

“Greater returns” from the heavy spending on advertising means more consumption and profits. It also means greater harm for people and communities.

The Super Bowl remains the most important event on the advertising calendar in the United States.

In the two weeks surrounding the game in 2022, more than $1.6 billion was spent on beer, hard cider and malt beverages.

More than 60 million cases of those alcoholic drinks were sold, according to Nielsen IQ.

Companies are competing for this spending and consumption. That is why alcohol companies turned Super Bowl 2023 into a booze war.

These alcohol promotion strategies seek to make alcohol more available in all kinds of ways: psychologically – that people feel they need alcohol for a specific event, such as Super Bowl to have meaning; Socially – that people feel without alcohol social events, gatherings, and contexts would be worthless; and Physically – that alcohol is ever more present everywhere we turn, from events, to the TV, to social media, to traditional media, and in the public space.

All this is harmful because it perpetuates an alcohol norm that is already driving record deaths and disease. And it is harmful because it glamorizes ill-health and distorts public recognition that alcohol causes serious harm.

There are three main ways how alcohol marketing causes harm to people and communities:

  1. Alcohol marketing causes harm to children and youth, and other vulnerable groups.
  2. Alcohol marketing saturates society with alcohol, and perpetuates the harmful alcohol norm.
  3. And alcohol marketing prevents evidence-based alcohol industry regulation.

But there is also an effective solution.

The one effective solution

The global nature of alcohol marketing, and the ease with which it transcends national borders, are important reasons to prioritize banning alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion to protect people and vulnerable groups.

When scientists modeled the potential impact of a complete ban on alcohol marketing in the United States they found it would lead to a 16% reduction in alcohol-related years of life lost among young adults who were 20 years old in the year 2000. A partial ban would be associated with a 4% reduction in alcohol-related years of life lost in the same population.

A 16% reduction of years of life lost due to alcohol is a remarkable impact of just one alcohol policy solution. This illustrates the potential of one effective solution to prevent harm and promote healthier communities.

The World Health Organization reccommends to our governments to “Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion”

Bans and comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship and promotion are impactful and cost-effective measures. Enacting and enforcing bans or comprehensive restrictions on exposure to them in the digital world will bring public health benefits and help protect children, adolescents and abstainers from the pressure to start consuming alcohol.”

WHO SAFER Technical Package 

Bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising are one of the top three most impactful and cost–effective solutions to prevent and reduce the harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry. Of course, digital marketing should be included in such regulatory frameworks.

Public health researchers have recently called for global action to prevent the exposure of vulnerable populations to alcohol marketing. They emphasize that “the most effective response to alcohol marketing is a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising, promotion and sponsorship”. 

The underlying principle for action on alcohol marketing should be that children and adolescents, and adults who choose to not to consume alcohol should be protected from exposure to alcohol marketing and that they have a right to go about their lives in environments free from alcohol promotions.

The solution to protect people from commercial pressure to start consuming and to consume more and more alcohol has large support among the public. Therefore, it is important that policy makers break the cycle of heavy alcohol marketing, pervasive alcohol environments, and policy inaction. It’s time to hear the people and to put the public interest first.

*Bad journalism in this means to uncritically promote alcohol brands and the narrative of the alcohol industry and to contribute to the role alcohol plays in culture and sports, instead of responsible reporting about the intent of alcohol comapnies, the harm caused by alcohol marketing in particular, and rising alcohol use in the U.S. in general.


Nielsen: “Super Bowl LVII totals more than 113 million viewers, ranks second most-watched game ever

New York Times: “Floodgates Open for Beer Ads During Super Bowl

Time: “The King of Super Bowl Advertising Is Basking in Beer’s Big Moment

USA Today: “Beer Wars: As Budweiser’s exclusive hold on Super Bowl ends, rivals gear up for shot at big game

The Drum: “As AB InBev’s exclusive Super Bowl reign comes to an end, the beer wars get fizzy

AdAge: “Super Bowl 2023 Ad Review – The Best and Worst Commercials from the Big Game

NBC: “What to Know about Super Bowl 2023 Commercials

The Sporting News: “Super Bowl 57 commercials schedule: Complete list of ads by quarter in 2023

Morningstar: “Super Bowl martinis, anyone? Americans are now spending more on booze than beer.

Digiday: “Rémy Martin leverages the Super Bowl to attract a younger audience, as Anheuser-Busch steps aside

AdAge: “SPECIAL REPORT: SUPER BOWL. Breaking news and analysis on Super Bowl commercials”

Sports Pro Media: “Super Bowl spend limited by AB InBev as it reveals 2023 ad campaign