2 Mermaids Entice Sharks With Spiked Seltzer in AB InBev’s New Super Bowl Spot

Bon & Viv is first flavored beverage to advertise in Big Game

New York agency Bullish created the spot. Bon & Viv
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

We already know that this year will mark AB InBev’s biggest-ever presence in the Super Bowl: Seven products across five brands set to take up more than five minutes of air time.

But the company is also making its largest effort to date to expand beyond the traditional beer roster by airing a spot dedicated to its newest product line, the recently rebranded Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer. It will be the first time that the Big Game has aired an ad in the FMB, or flavored malt beverage, category.

This focus on diversification comes as Americans on the whole consume less alcohol.

Chelsea Phillips, vice president of AB InBev’s Beyond Beer Brands division, identified carbonated beverages as one of her company’s five “strategic pillars of growth.” “We’re seeing flavor emerge as a growth driver,” she said. “We’re looking at opportunities to open new consumption occasions and targets where beer has not reached.”

In other words, many consumers go for flavor and dietary concerns over more traditional factors when choosing a drink. This insight led former PepsiCo executive Nick Shields to created the sugar-free, 90-calorie spiked seltzer, which he sold to AB InBev in 2016.

The ad below, which will air during the Super Bowl’s first ad break next month, embodies that rebrand, bringing the two mermaids on Bon & Viv’s packaging to life with the help of some CGI sharks.

New York agency Bullish created the spot.

We still see data that says 60 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t know that hard seltzer, as a product, exists,” said Phillips, who sees the game as a chance to make a “huge, powerful statement” in introducing the brand to a majority of the public for the first time.

The visually bold spot aims to help Bon & Viv stand out in a market increasingly crowded by beer alternatives and become “a brand, not a product.”

As more entrants came into [the carbonated] space, it became a sea of sameness,” said Phillips. “We heard consumers say, just give me a green one.”

“We exist to deliver the best of taste and the best of health, because people want both, and they don’t want to choose,” Phillips added. Internally, the decision to run a Super Bowl ad for this still-new line was an easy one, she said, because AB InBev’s top priority is diversifying its portfolio to match evolving consumer tastes.

The company would like to clear up one misconception: this ad, and the brand itself, are not just for women.

Over time, we have become more and more co-ed,” said Phillips, noting that both her mother and her brother, who recently graduated from college, could enjoy Bon & Viv while at a book club or a foosball game, respectively.

Bonnie and Vivian represent the brand’s mythical, eponymous “founders.” And the sharks? They’re stand-ins for interested but skeptical American consumers who have yet to try the product. Phillips also noted that the lead characters’ tridents are traditional symbols of leadership.

“[We want] to give women a new voice that we haven’t seen before in alcohol advertising,” she said.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl LIII Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 3 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.