Bud Light surprised football fans with a little Stevie Wonder during Super Bowl XLVII.
The legendary performer appeared in two commercials—"Journey" and "Lucky Chair." Set in New Orleans, the spots cast Wonder as a man with mystical powers, and he is more than willing to use them for the benefit of football fans who are eager to tap into his mojo to bring good luck to their teams.
Both spots, directed by Sam Bayer, are steeped in superstition, which has been the theme of Bud Light’s NFL-related campaign out of Translation since last fall. Throughout the effort, football fans have been depicted practicing all sorts of rituals—from sitting in a particular chair to wearing a lucky jersey on game day—that they believe will result in a win for their team. "Translation built a great campaign because it was built on a universal truth," says Paul Chibe, vice president, U.S. marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, "and when we were in the process of developing Super Bowl ideas, we had the opportunity not only to build on that idea but also partner with Stevie Wonder."
Wonder has allowed Bud Light to use his iconic song "Superstition" throughout the campaign, and that has been a real gift, according to Translation founder and CEO Steve Stoute. "It’s an honor to get a chance to work with a song of that level of writing and production and to be able to have it be a part of our storytelling," he says.
But the Super Bowl spots took the collaboration with Wonder to another level, marking the first time the star has appeared in commercials for Bud Light. "He’s really protective of his copyright and his image and his songs," Stoute says. "But I think the success of the campaign and the way his song was used made him willing to accept our proposal."
"Journey" and "Lucky Chair" were shot two weeks before the Super Bowl, and the idea was to keep Wonder’s involvement under wraps. "These two spots are dependent on the reveal of Stevie," says Chibe. With that in mind, Bud Light chose to debut the spots during the actual game rather than allow fans to see them beforehand.
If there is one thing that is missing from the experience of watching the commercials during the Super Bowl these days, it is the element of surprise. In recent years, many brands have been flooding YouTube and other outlets with their spots days prior to the big event, and it’s a practice that concerns Chibe. "That’s something we’ve talked about with our broadcast partners and NFL, and it’s something we’re going to have to keep our eye on because if everyone releases the commercials early, the Super Bowl’s not going to be something special," Chibe maintains.
That said, Bud Light did release a couple of other spots early this year. "My ingoing view is that we have to be judicious because it might not happen in a year," Chibe says, "but what could happen over five or ten years is people could look back and go, ‘What happened to the Super Bowl? It’s not what it was.' And it might well not be because if everyone is trying to get around it, it loses it’s special place as a television event."