Will This Niche Beverage Company’s Super Bowl Spot Be a Surprise Hit?

Barton F. Graf extends absurdist campaign to Big Game

Bai, the maker of low-calorie health beverages, will make its first Super Bowl appearance with a commercial by Barton F. Graf. What's more, the brand has elevated Barton to lead agency status.

Bai will run a single 30-second spot during the Feb. 7 CBS telecast. Media placement is being handled by Maxus. Bai has yet to finalize the exact placement of the ad.

"While you often see many long-established brands taking advantage of the most-watched broadcast in television, you also see emerging brands, like Bai, using it as a way to introduce themselves to new consumers," Chad Portas, Bai's chief creative officer, told Adweek. On game day, viewers will get "a glimpse into what we make and why our products are truly different," he said.

The commercial will be a new entry in Bai's "None of This Makes Sense" campaign, which Barton unveiled last year. Employing the shop's trademark absurdist humor, the work presented oddball characters in weird situations asking why Bai—brimming with antioxidants and packing only five calories—tastes so good. According to the ads, that simply doesn't make sense.

Of course, spending $5 million or possibly more on a Super Bowl slot might seem nonsensical to some—or, at the very least, like a risky move for the brand which, after all, competes in a niche category and is hardly a household name.

Portas, however, isn't losing any sleep over the strategy.

"This is certainly new territory for Bai," he said, "but we are excited to kick off our 2016 campaign in he biggest way possible. Opening this yearlong effort on marketing's biggest stage may not be practical or logical to some. It may not make sense. But we do things our own way, and that's how we've become the fastest growing brand in our category."

Perhaps lightning will strike twice. After all, a Super Bowl advertising newbie, Avocados From Mexico, had one of the surprise hits of last year's game. (And that brand will participate in Super Bowl 50 next month with new work from GSD&M.)

• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.

@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.