About a decade before I tasted my first Natty Light, I really started having feelings for the, so called, nectar of the Gods…beer. Why, you ask? It was not because I had any idea of the delightful effects of alcohol or due to the delicious micro-brews that I have come to love. It was something so intriguing that for a number of years I looked forward to this event almost as much as I looked forward to the actual Super Bowl itself. So, what is this “event?” It was known quite simply as, THE BUD BOWL.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, I remember seeing about 1,000 commercials promoting a game between to rival, animated beer bottles: Budweiser and Bud Light. Something about a beer bottle posing as a football player drew me instantly. I also loved how the personalities of the bottles reflected some of the legends of the game during that time. The likenesses of Bear Bryant and Mike Ditka were used in creating the coaches of each team. The QB of Team Bud Light, Budway Joe, was based on what appeared to be a mix of Jim McMahon and Joe Namath. There was also the twin Team Bud RBs, Billy Bud and Bobby Bud. And to top it all off, a 40oz. bottle used by Team Bud as a secret weapon known as “The Freezer’” based on William “The Refridegrator” Perry. Even funnier still were the announcer teams that were used to call the games. In later editions of the Bud Bowl, a 22oz can was introduced to team Bud, but he was ejected from the game for excessive celebration and unsportsmanlike conduct. Interestingly, Bob Costas called the Bud Bowl I, while Terry Bradshaw and Brent Musberger called Bud Bowl II. Over time, the always obnoxious, Chris Berman, Marv Albert, and even Keith Jackson (Whoa Nelly!) called the play-by-play on subsequent Bud Bowls. For 7 of 8 years, between 1989 and 1997, the Bud Bowl aired during the Super Bowl with Team Bud winning the series with a 6-2 record (Bud Light got screwed).
The Bud Bowl ended up being one of the best marketing campaigns Anheuser-Busch had at that point in time. However, escalating production costs brought an end to the promotion in 1997. Looking back, I’m fairly certain a promotion like this would not be permissible this day in age. Basically, this was a promotion marketed to under-age consumers, and it seemed to work wonders. What kid would not want to see a talking beer bottle? There are probably plenty of 20-somethings and 30-somethings who can remember their first Bud Bowl and began getting curious about what was actually in those bottles. I know it worked on me.
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