Last night during the lowest scoring (and most boring) Super Bowl on record, Anheuser- Busch InBev dropped nearly $60 million dollars on advertising. That’s nearly one and a half times more cash then they spent on acquiring Goose Island back in 2011. One of last night’s more interesting commercials by the largest brewery was a crossover featuring HBO’s Game of Thrones show.
Like them or hate them, Budweiser has had some pretty iconic marketing over the years. We’re talking Spuds Mackenzie dog in the ’80s, Bud Frogs of the ’90s, the Wazzap??? set of commercials that started in 2000. As of late, you’ve been hearing the word Dilly Dilly (AB trademarked that) and the Bud Knight, set in a medieval era. Last night the Bud Knight met a gruesome end at the hands of The Mountain from Game of Thrones.
Not just knocked off a horse. But dead. Like… super dead.
For those interested in marketing, it’s Budweiser ending the medieval marketing campaign on their own terms and it’s pretty brilliant. Dilly Dilly and the Bud Knight didn’t just fade away. They left in a skull squishing, dragon scorching fashion that was 10 times more dramatic and interesting than the Punt Bowl going on in Atlanta (and not being watched by Saints fans).
Folks on social media have drawn dozens of parallels to the Bud Light marketing and Game of Thrones, leading some to wonder where’s Bud’s cease & desist order, since the company hands those out like candy on Halloween. Maybe HBO’s version of the C&D came at the hands of The Mountain (played by GoT actor, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).
Why? Apparently, HBO decided to kill the Bud Knight.
According to a piece in Morningstar, HBO approached Anheuser-Busch in August of last year. They saw the crossover potential promoting the show’s last season from a mile away. The true GoT fashion, they were going to kill the Bud Knight in a violent way. AB InBev didn’t like the violent turn in the tv spot, but finally gave the go-ahead.
Bud Light’s agency, Wieden+Kennedy, collaborated with HBO and Droga5 on the 60-second spot, “Joust.” The team tapped David Nutter, who directed the gory “Red Wedding” scene from season 3 to direct the Super Bowl spot. Let’s face it, if Nutter could have had full say, you’d have seen Bud Light spill out of the Knight in some twisted, bloody way.
The head squish is pretty tame in comparison.
Budweiser mentions in a press release that the commerical ends with the Bud Knight laying on the ground motionless, taking precaution not to use the word “dead,” but we all know you don’t survive The Mountain’s hands.
However, the medieval Bud Light marketing isn’t completely done. Expect to see #ForTheThrone themed Bud promotions leading up to the final Game of Thrones episodes in starting in April. GoT fans, don’t miss the extended edition below.
Oh, and HBO – there better not be a Bud Knight crossover in the show. Just saying.