COLUMBUS—The Big Bowl Vote, a nationwide survey of more than 1,400 middle and high school students, determined that Bud Light’s Super Bowl ad was the favorite ad of young people who watched the Super Bowl. By comparison, it ranked only 15th in USA TODAY’s Ad Meter, which ranks Super Bowl ads by consumer rating.
More than 170 students rated the Bud Light ad as their favorite in the Big Bowl Vote. Doritos’ ad was second with 140 votes. Mr. Peanut’s revival was students’ third favorite with 130 votes.
Students overwhelmingly liked the humor of the Bud Light ad and its endorsing celebrity, Post Malone, the rapper whose works include “Rockstar” and “Sunflower,” the latter of which was included in the film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse.”
“Whether it’s ads for alcohol products or for snacks, young people favor humorous ads like Bud Light’s, and they favor ads with celebrities they know, such as Post Malone,” said Marcie Seidel, the executive director of Prevention Action Alliance, which conducted the survey. “Alcohol companies know this, and they favor jokes that make adults look or act childish to grab hold of this demographic.”
Seidel said the ad features Malone trying to decide between Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer. In the ad, his indecision leads him to knock over shelves in the convenience store, destroying most of the store’s products in a humorous battle for control over his brain.
“The bottom line is that this ad appealed more to youth than it did to people who are legally allowed to purchase it,” Seidel said. “That’s unacceptable.”
Tactics like these have been demonstrated to increase the appeal of that beer with young people, Seidel said. According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, when youth like alcohol ads, they’re more likely to drink and to view drinking in a positive light.
According to the Big Bowl Vote, when youth remembered seeing ads for alcohol, they gave the following reasons why they liked them (youth could give more than one reason why they liked an ad, so the percentages do not equal 100):
- 38 percent of young people said they liked the humor.
- 14 percent of young people said they liked its music.
- 18 percent of young people said they liked the story it told.
- 14 percent of young people said they liked its special effects.
- 8 percent of young people said they liked the brand/product.
- 27 percent of young people said they liked the celebrity who endorsed it.
Seidel said alcohol companies have been quietly getting away with the kind of youth advertising that e-cigarette companies are now getting in trouble for. Between 2004 and 2009, youth exposure to alcohol ads increased faster than exposure among people 21 and up.
“These companies use adults with face tattoos throwing temper tantrums, cartoonish characters like Bud Knight, and animals—dogs, horses and kangaroos—to appeal to youth and sell beer to them now and establish themselves as youths’ beer of choice,” Seidel said.
Seidel said that alcohol companies target young people because they know that attracting young people represent the greatest long-term investment in their products.
“About a fourth of high school students in the U.S. binge drink,” said Seidel. “Of them, about 7 in 10 already have a favorite brand that they’ll go on to drink for years. This is despite the fact that they’re underage and shouldn’t have access to these products.”
More than 27 schools from 11 states participated in this year’s Big Bowl Vote, according to Seidel.
“We thank each and every one of them,” Seidel said. “They’re not only doing their students a favor by using this moment to talk about the influence of advertising and the importance of media literacy, but they’re playing their role for prevention.”
About the Big Bowl Vote
The Big Bowl Vote is a nationwide survey of students created by Prevention Action Alliance to educate communities on the effects ads for alcohol have on young people, empower educators and others who work with youth to promote critical thinking and to advocate for community dialogues about advertisements for alcohol in your community.
Prevention Action Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit in Columbus, Ohio that is dedicated to leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. Learn more at preventionactionalliance.org.