I fell in love with the Super Bowl in 1989 and one of the main reasons was the Bud Bowl marketing campaign from Bud Light.

I would fall in love with beer just a few years later. 😂🍺

Super Bowl XXIII pitted the Cincinnati Bengals against the San Francisco 49ers. In arguably the greatest drive in Super Bowl history, Joe Montana led the 49ers down the field and scored the game winning touchdown in the game’s final seconds.

I remember this vividly because I was recording the game on our VCR. And I’d have to get up and pause the recording during commercials.

One of the commercials I did not pause the recording on was the Bud Bowl Super Bowl commercials that debuted that year, during the game.

Bud Bowl featured the full line of Budweiser beer products as individual players that comprised the team, literally playing against each other on a football field.

Team Bud Light versus team Budweiser – who would win as the true “King of Beers?” Both teams were marketed as being undefeated. Bud Bowl would determine the victor.

The game was shot just like a real NFL game, production value and broadcast team included. The game of Bud Bowl was broken down into several segments that you can watch condensed here:

During commercial breaks during the Super Bow, the Bud spots would flash back to Bud Bowl and share a summary of key plays. Each segment was broken down into :30 second updates and there were six of them.

The entirety of Bud Bowl I was three minutes. It was shot via stop motion animated video production. And it was tedious AF! From Wikipedia:

“The stop-motion filming process was painstaking, involving eight hours of work to produce just three seconds of footage.”

So, 180 seconds of game footage took 60 hours to produce.

David Henke and Bill Oakley of D’arcy Masius Benton & Bowles were the creative team behind the original Bud Bowl. The 3D computer graphics promotional spots preceding the game commercials were made by San Francisco Production Group.

Fans were packed into the stadium as cans of Bud heavy and Bud Light., while the players were bottles. The spots featured some incredible, fun copywriting.

“Bud takes the ball at the 18 and hands it to Bud. And the Cans go wild! We’ve got a real bruhaha!”

The entire campaign was just FUN.

From the head coach of Bud Light wearing a fedora hat (an homage to NFL hall of Fame coach Tom Landry) to in-game shots of the owner’s box featuring Bud Light owner Spuds MacKenzie surrounded by a bevy of babes enjoying the action.

Team Budweiser brought in a 40 ounce bottle/player named “The Freezer” as a fullback near the goal line and he pounded the ball in for a touchdown, an homage to William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

How many Bud Bowls were there?

There were a total of 8 Bud Bowls. Not only did I forget there were that many, but I forgot the stud-laden broadcast teams Budweiser hired to call the “game”!

The full list of Bud Bowls, results from each game, and the commentators:

I 1989 Budweiser 27, Bud Light 24 Bob Costas & Paul Maguire
II 1990 Budweiser 36, Bud Light 34 Brent Musburger & Terry Bradshaw
III 1991 Bud Light 23, Budweiser 21 Keith Jackson & Don Meredith with Chris Berman
IV 1992 Budweiser 27, Bud Light 24 Chris Berman
V 1993 Budweiser 35, Bud Light 31 Ahmad Rashad & Karen Duffy
VI 1994 Bud Light 20, Budweiser 14 Marv Albert
VII 1995 Budweiser 26, Bud Light 24 Chris Berman
8 1997 Budweiser 27, Bud Light 24 Howie Long & Ronnie Lott

In later years, Bud Bowl was retained as an advertising promotion, but in different forms. In 1996, it served as a contest only.

By 1998, it was mostly removed from television. Bud Bowl was used often in static store display promotions, and/or contests.

By 2002, it was attached to a series of local events at the host city of the Super Bowl, such as concerts, festivals, and parties taking place in the days leading up to the game.

Bud Bowl was the perfect mix of timing, creativity, imagination, production ability, and talent.

Nothing good lasts forever, just like that first tall frosty-mugged pint you suck down after a long week of work and the beginning of a game.