I helped launch the Bud Bowl 35 years ago. What if we did it today instead?

I helped launch the Bud Bowl 35 years ago. What if we did it today instead?


Conover Tuttle Pace’s Grant Pace helped launch the Bud Bowl, the long-running campaign enshrining Anheuser-Busch’s category exclusivity at the big game. He imagines how he would execute the work some 35 years later using what he calls ‘Touchdown Tech.’


In 1989, my beloved Chiefs, led by Steve Deberg, were mired in a 20-year drought from football’s pinnacle. But that year, I didn’t care. Because I was lucky enough to be part of a creative campaign ‘that changed the Super Bowl.’


Sports Illustrated’s words, not mine.


The Bud Bowl was the first commercial made entirely just for the Super Bowl. Its six commercials ran only that one time. It was also the first multi-part series and probably the first integrated campaign with PR and in-store signage playing such a big role. We knew we were on to something big, confirmed when Letterman spoofed it and Danny Sheridan of USA Today posted a betting line. And it did not disappoint.


Today, my Super Bowl dreams have exceeded all expectations, thanks to Mahomes and Co. But this week, on the 35th anniversary of that first Bud Bowl, I’ve also allowed myself to dream big about that game.


What if it wasn’t until 2024 that August Busch wanted to OWN the Super Bowl?


What if the Bud Bowl ran for the first time this week?


After all, HD TVs and multi-view screens were years away back in ‘89; never mind the internet, social media and the generative AI explosion that’s opened doors of opportunity.

Just imagine the tools, technologies and platforms we could have used to own the before and after, not just the Super Bowl itself.


Generating Buzz

The Bud Bowl was more than a TV ad campaign; it was storytelling before, during and after the game – even if our channels were limited. To drive engagement and excitement leading into the “game.” In 2024, we could:

    • Create player connections. Players make the game, so we’d use AI to generate every player’s names, backgrounds, social profiles and video highlights. Who doesn’t want to know more about the TE dating the famous “pop” star? Or see some of the Beechwood backs celebratory dances on TikTok?
    • Simulate Media Day. A social segment on Tuesday of the Super Bowl with all of the trappings of media day. Bulletin board quotes, crazy costumes, a shocking confession, interviews with Pat McAffee and Michael Strahan, appearances on New Heights and Cam Newton podcasts.
    • Set the lines. Partner with one of the major sportsbooks, such as Draft Kings and FanDuel, to develop lines and pro bets beyond what Danny Sheridan teased.
    • Create and post social teasers. A star Bud player was last seen heading to the blue tent during the Playoffs. Will he be ready for the Super Bowl? IS all he needs a little extra ice? Daily injury reports will fuel social speculation.
    • Leverage Influencers. Dude Perfect stunts using Bud bottles as props on YouTube.


Game Day

It’s not just what happens on the field that creates buzz but everything surrounding it. Consider…

      • Make it sound big. Using AI voiceovers, John Madden and Howard Cosell will handle the booth, while Leslie Visser will handle the sidelines.
      • Make it omnipresent. Partner with Apple to create an alternate screen experience that has the full game running side-by-side with the Super Bowl – replete with player states and updated betting lines.
      • Make it look big. Cutaway shots to celebrities, including global sensation and “pop” star Saylor Twift, who’s been dating the handsome player with the nice six-pack.
      • Make it mixed reality. Create integrations, like beer being poured on the winning team.
      • Make it user-participatory–real-time voting for MVP of the game.
      • Make it heartwarming. A “Recycled” series featuring interviews with the old bottles that played in the original game. They revisit the game and give some insights into stuff that we didn’t know happened. “He got hit so hard his cap came off. They had to screw it back on right there on the sideline.”



The game is just the beginning…

        • Disney. Social highlights from the game’s biggest star trip to Busch Gardens as the game’s MVP.
        • Hall of Fame. An exhibit that includes the Super Bowl’s greatest moments and players, including newly inducted Bud / Bud Light heroes.
        • Madden integration. Include the Bud/Bud Light teams in the game.
        • Sweepstakes. At the point of purchase for a chance to win a Bud Bowl Super Bowl ring, actually made by Johnson, etc.
        • NFTs of the bottles are available for a limited time only.


It’s fun to dream. We could create an entire ecosystem powered by creative muscle, further by AI, and leverage today’s multi-channel platforms to create something that owned more than just the game.


Grant Pace is the executive creative director at CTP. He’s been in advertising for nearly 40 years, developing campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world. His work for the original Bud Bowl was the driving force behind one of history’s most successful ad promotions. His SmartBeep ads are routinely seen on America’s Funniest Commercials.

Originally published in The Drum.

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