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PostedApril 2017
Business SectorSubscribers Only
Media Type Television & Cinema

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Inside Molson Coors’ first Super Bowl spot in 33 years

(Photo credit: Molson Coors Beverage Company) 

The ad spawned the second-most searched term on Google during the big game.

The Super Bowl has always been about competition — except for among beer companies. 

Anheuser Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) had an exclusivity deal with the NFL since 1989, meaning other beer companies could not advertise during the big game. That changed this year after the conglomerate declined to renew its contract. As such, the Molson Coors Beverage Company seized the opportunity.

“After we made the decision to get back into the Super Bowl, the real fun began where we started to think: How are we going to show up this year?” said Rachel Dickens, Molson Coors senior director of communications and corporate affairs. “It was a big moment.”


Given the unique opportunity, the creative team wanted to do something unconventional, said Jeremy Mullman, a partner at ICF Next.

“There's a huge trend in culture towards gamification of almost everything,” said Mullman. “You see it partially in the rise of legal sports wagering but also even with the Super Bowl in terms of how people watch the game; they are actually betting on the national anthem length.”

So for the Super Bowl this year, the brewer decided to lean into the story of its time away from the turf. The company worked with DraftKings to set up a free contest in which people could bet on which beer the company would advertise during the game — Miller Lite or Coors Lite — and other details of the ad.

Participants had a chance to win a share of a $500,000 prize pool.



In mid-January, the company started teasing that both brands thought they had the Super Bowl ad locked up.

The company used out-of-home and digital advertising and a print advertisement in The New York Times featured a mock news story quoting sources from both brands.

“Molson Coors confirmed that the company will indeed have an ad in the big game,” the ad stated. “But when pressed to clarify which brand the commercial will be for, the company replied simply, ‘No comment.’”

Then, about two weeks before the game, the group released a teaser advertisement featuring dramatic music and stating, “After 30 years, two iconic beers face off in one big game commercial.”

The advertisement was well placed, Dickens said, because people were still focused on the upcoming conference championship games.

“We were able to almost seize on those two weeks of gap time between the championships and the Super Bowl itself, so we got a ton of people engaged,” she said.

The company also paid sports commentators Dan Patrick and Dan Le Batard to mention the campaign on their podcasts. 

Podcast advertising has “been a huge channel that we have invested in over the past few years,” Dickens said.

The company did not announce which brand won until the advertisement itself. That was a break from the trend among companies to release their advertisements before the game.

People watching the game recently have seen “85% of the spots already — or whatever it is — and that's not really fun, right?” said Mullman. “We really believe that the Super Bowl is not a day; it's a season, and you want to keep people interested and keep them on their toes for as long as you can.”

The actual 30-second advertisement opened with a guy at a bar telling the audience it's a Coors ad — until another guy interrupts him and says, actually, it’s a Miller ad. The two then start to fight, with the sort of moves seen in “The Matrix.” The spot ends with a big twist: it was an advertisement for Blue Moon, another Molson brand.

The $500,000 was split among entrants who best predicted the details of the ad.


Variety reported that the second-most searched term on Google during the Super Bowl — behind “Is Rihanna pregnant?” — was: “Who owns Blue Moon?”

The campaign received coverage from publications such as: CNNThe New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalCNBCThe AthleticForbes; and The Washington Post.

More than 257,000 people entered the DraftKings contest.


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