On Feb. 2, 2020, better known to Americans as Super Bowl Sunday, draft beer sales at major chain restaurants declined 1.3 percent compared to 2019, according to food and beverage technology company BeerBoard.
BeerBoard’s “2020 Big Game Pour Report” provides insights of on-premise sales data from a database of 45,000 brands at its clients, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, WingHouse, Twin Peaks, and Mellow Mushroom.
(Beer sales did, however, spike 21.3 percent in winning team hometown Kansas City, Mo.; draft beer sales in San Francisco were flat; Miami saw an 11.4 percent bump during the game.)
This might sound strange to anyone who’s watched, or been anywhere near anyone watching, the Super Bowl at a bar. The football game is practically a federal holiday, and beer its conduit. (It’s like turkey sales declining on Thanksgiving. Impossible!)
And yet, not only did beer sales dip slightly — the light lager category declined 1.2 percent overall. Even Bud Light sales dipped 22 percent compared to last year’s Super Bowl airtime. What’s the deal?
Anheuser-Busch ran four advertisements during Super Bowl LIV: a 60-second ad each for its Michelob Ultra, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, Budweiser, and Bud Light brands. (Check out our ranking of the ads here.)
As the sole beer company permitted to advertise against the Super Bowl — A-B had its 40th year as an official Super Bowl sponsor and had exclusive rights on nationally aired beer ads — you’d expect light lager sales to dominate.
I’d say the answer is hidden, in plain sight, in the form of one Bud Light ad starring Post Malone. See, the ad wasn’t really for Bud Light — at least, not the light lager. It was an ad for Bud Light Hard Seltzer.
Bar goers drinking less beer during the Super Bowl is strange. In fact, it chills me to the core more than a Coors Light can turned blue. But the decline of Bud Light (lager), and the ad spend on Bud Light Hard Seltzer, is telling. (A-B reportedly spent more than $24 million on TV ads for Bud Light Hard Seltzer before the Super Bowl. The Fox network charges a minimum of $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime, meaning A-B’s minute-long ads cost a minimum of $10 million each. You do the math.)
If Post Malone’s robot’s human-scientist-controlled inner monologue taught us anything, it’s that the proof is in the pudding. Or rather, the spiked and sparkling canned water. The sip of seltzer he takes in the ad is but a sip of the hard seltzer tidal wave that is to come.
Molson Coors to Lay Off Hundreds
As it prepares to close its Denver headquarters, Molson Coors will lay off close to 200 employees over the next year and a half. According to a letter from Molson Coors to the Denver mayor’s office, the company had originally planned to lay off all 300 Denver employees, but 67 have since left the company. A remaining 191 will be laid off between February 2020 and July 2021, Brewbound reports.
Ultimately, Molson Coors Beverage Co. — formerly known as Molson Coors Brewing Co. — will lay off 500 workers worldwide.
Here’s what’s happening: Molson Coors rebranded from a beer company to a beverage company in January 2019. It’s going hard into hard seltzer (and other adjacent ready-to-drink beverages), and it’s trying to save money — an estimated $150 million — by reallocating funds from Denver to new product launches.
Change is coming. Whether that change will be good is yet to be seen.
Constellation Invests in Press (Seltzer)
Last week, Constellation Brands announced it will acquire a minority stake in Press Premium Alcohol Seltzer, the largest independent hard seltzer brand, as well as the only woman-owned hard seltzer brand.
The minority investment is part of Constellation’s Focus on Female Founders program, a pledge to invest $100 million in women-founded or women-led businesses by 2028, Brewbound reports.
It seems to me like Press co-founders Amy Walberg and Jim Sorenson, who founded the brand in 2015, are living the dream. Create a brand, grow its size and stature, sell the brand to one of the largest alcohol companies in the world. I say, good for Press.