Budweiser Won’t Unleash the Puppy for a Third Super Bowl Run

Anomaly spots topped the Ad Meter in each of the past two years

Despite the enormous popularity of its first two puppy-based Super Bowl commercials, Budweiser won't be unleashing a third come February.

Ads starring the Labrador pup from Anomaly, Bud's lead creative agency, topped USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter in each of the past two years. But the brewer is relegating the little scamp to the sidelines for CBS's Feb. 7 telecast of Super Bowl 50.

Why? The puppy spot in this past Super Bowl simply didn't sell enough beer. So said Anheuser-Busch vice president of marketing Jorn Socquet in a statement sent to Adweek.

"Budweiser aired two very different spots in last February's Super Bowl, and we learned that content focused on the quality of our beer was most effective in generating sales," he said. "Starting with our 'Brewed the Hard Way' ad in last year's game and throughout 2015, our marketing has featured a bold, confident voice that speaks directly to Budweiser drinkers, and sales trends have improved as a result. We'll continue this tone in Super Bowl 50, and we're excited to explore new creative territory."

Here's the 2015 Bud Super Bowl ad "Lost Dog":

Naturally, Budweiser's iconic Clydesdales "will most certainly make an appearance," he said.

Last month, Adweek ran a poll asking readers if the puppy should return to the big game in 2016, and three-quarters of respondents voted for more puppy love.

Industry experts, for the most part, agreed, noting that recurring motifs have generally worked well in Super Bowl ads through the years. (Plus, why take a chance on an unproven concept with up to $5 million riding on each 30-second ad placement in the game?)

"The commercials that usually win the popularity contests are the ones that have recurring characters and an ongoing story," Scott Davis, chief growth officer at brand consultancy Prophet, said at the time.

Still, there were voices of caution and dissent. Edward Boches, an advertising professor at Boston University, former chief creative officer of Mullen Lowe and occasional columnist for Adweek, said Anomaly would have to put a dynamic twist on the puppy concept to extend its popularity.

Mark Hunter, currently executive creative director at SapientNitro, who served as creative chief at Deutsch L.A. in 2012 when Volkswagen returned to the Super Bowl for a second straight year with a Star Wars-themed ad, discouraged Bud from letting out the dog for a third run.

"I would move on," he said. "This year's was not as good as 2014's, and if you're not careful, the whole thing becomes a parody of itself."

Here's the 2014 Bud Super Bowl ad "Puppy Love":

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.