Michelob’s Messi Ad Shows Smart Thinking

Michelob ULTRA

Superior Beach


Silky skills, audacious nutmegs, the beautiful game, and the charmed feet of Lionel Messi… no, this isn’t a World Cup ad, and yes, Michelob ULTRA hasn’t got their footballs mixed up. Their Super Bowl ad brings Messi to the biggest game in US sport – at least via the medium of advertising – and gives viewers a taste of beach soccer in the middle of the drama of Super Bowl night.

It’s Messi’s first appearance in a Super Bowl commercial, though he’s no stranger to advertising in general, regularly showing up in ads whenever there’s a major soccer tournament. So he’s used to the job – in fact, before he takes to the beach, ball at his feet, you could look at Messi, Dan Marino and Ted Lasso’s Jason Sudeikis and fully believe these are just three guys chilling at a beach bar. It’s a very natural, relaxed vibe which helps the ad feel authentic once the action really starts.

Michelob and agency Wieden & Kennedy New York have come up with a great reason to get to that action. The guys are at the bar, ordering draft Michelob. But as the bartender pours Messi’s beer it runs out. While he waits for a replacement keg – naturally there’s no question of him accepting an alternative! – Messi treats the beach to a little display of his skills. As stories go, it’s not complicated, but it frames the ad well and gives Messi’s performance a context.

Viewers really enjoyed the ad. It scored a very strong 4.8-Stars on the Test Your Ad platform, which looks set to land it in our Top 10 for Super Bowl LVIII (we’ll be testing the ads as they’re aired, so check in after the game as the best ones are revealed). On top of that the ad scores an exceptional short-term Spike rating.

What makes it so successful? The ad has a really strong use of a celebrity – one of the pieces of advice we give to brands using superstars in their commercials is to make sure they’re doing something only they can do. That’s certainly the case here.

But on top of that the ad offers something fresh to a Super Bowl audience. What do people associate with the Super Bowl? Sports, a fun social event, and beer and snacks. What is Michelob delivering here? A look at our Test Your Ad PRO key associations shows: “fun”, “sports”, “beer”. In other words, the ad is triggering all the associations people have with the Super Bowl, but in a cleverly different context. Soccer instead of football, a beach in Summer instead of the middle of February – but the core of hanging out with friends, having fun and enjoying sports is the same.

It’s a perfect association for Michelob ULTRA, which is presenting itself as an active, highly sociable brand that’s also a fresh alternative to the other big Anheuser-Busch brands which dominate game night. By switching the sport but keeping the associations, Michelob has made an original, highly enjoyable Super Bowl ad that might just bring it the beer brand Championship Ring this year.

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