MONEY Advertising

5 Ways This Year’s Super Bowl Ads Will Be Like No Other

Victoria's Secret Angels Superbowl ad
Victoria’s Secret Angels Super Bowl Commercial Michael Seto

This year, a Super Bowl ad costs roughly $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time, up $500,000 from 2014. Price isn't the only way this year's ads will be different.

In a few ways, come Sunday, February 1, Super Bowl viewers can expect some of the same-old, same-old during breaks in the game. Unsurprisingly, there will be ads selling beer and tearjerkers featuring lost puppies (one does both at the same time), and there will be at least one commercial flashing a nearly naked woman walking in public, thanks to perennial provocateur Carl’s Jr. Still, in a few interesting ways this year’s Super Bowl commercials make a break from the past.

There won’t be many car ads.
Auto brands are usually big players in the Super Bowl ad games. Not so much this year. As the Detroit News pointed out, 11 automakers aired commercials during the 2014 Super Bowl. This year, only a handful will be paying up for Super Bowl ad time, with Ford, Lincoln, Hyundai, Honda, Acura, General Motors, and Volkswagen among the regular Super Bowl advertisers who aren’t bothering this year.

The latter is known for some of the best and most shared Super Bowl ads ever (everybody remembers the kid Darth Vader from 2011), yet the automaker released a statement explaining, “For 2015, we have opted to not participate due to other priorities and initiatives across all platforms. We hope to rejoin the Super Bowl when we feel it is appropriate for our brand.”

Analysts have also theorized that automakers are skipping Super Bowl ads this year because the timing doesn’t match up with new vehicle launches, and simply because they’ve blown so much money on these commercials in the past. Over the last decade, automakers have dropped $514.6 million on Super Bowl commercials, nearly 25% of the grand total.

Some other big advertisers are passing too.
Like Dannon, which isn’t advertising even though it’s the Official Yogurt Sponsor of the NFL, and even though it’s developed a reputation for memorable Super Bowl ads like last year’s “Full House” reunion spot. Even for brands that seek close ties with the NFL, the thinking can be that advertising in the Super Bowl simply costs too much, and might not provide enough bang for the buck over the long haul.

“The Super Bowl has a huge audience—but with a huge price tag,” Dannon senior director of public relations Michael Neuwirth said in an interview. “We looked at the most efficient way to build awareness and interest in the product across a longer period of time.”

There will be a bunch of brands you never heard of.
Chances are you’ve never heard of Wix.com (a website building company), Loctite (super glue), or Mophie (smartphone cases), and if you are familiar with the likes of Buzzfeed and The Verge, you probably don’t think of them as Super Bowl advertisers. Nonetheless, all of the above have commercials airing during the Super Bowl, the latter two with regional rather than national ads, but impressive and expensive nonetheless.

When a commercial featuring a fairly obscure brand is shown during the most expensive, most watched TV event of the year, it’s going to cause some puzzlement on the behalf of viewers. And that’s why this strategy might be effective and help a brand make an extra big splash.

In a Wall Street Journal article about the roughly 15 companies advertising for the first time in the Super Bowl this year, Chris Lawrence, director of account management at Fallon, the agency that created the Loctite Super Bowl ad, said, “The fact that there is scrutiny and people paying attention is exactly the point … It’s a chance to make a lot of friends very quickly.”

On the other hand, it’s also a chance to alienate and anger millions of viewers. See the ill-conceived effort by first-time Super Bowl advertiser Groupon in 2011, when the coupon site thought it would be funny to mock environmental and political tragedies around the globe.

The ads won’t only be limited to TV screens.
Five years ago, Pepsi skipped the Super Bowl even though ad time started then at $2.5 million—cheap compared with the $4+ million a 30-second slot runs this year. And the reason Pepsi gave in 2010 for not advertising was a decision to focus instead on a social media campaign.

Was the campaign successful? Well, let’s just say that Pepsi is not only advertising in the 2015 Super Bowl, it’s the official sponsor of the halftime show featuring Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

Nonetheless, big brands commit so much time and energy to social media during the game that it’s tantamount to its own parallel category of Super Bowl advertising. Remember Oreo’s memorable Tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl at the New Orleans Super Dome, when the masses were reminded, “You can still dunk in the dark”? That extremely timely and effective message kicked up social media efforts to the next level.

This year, the off-TV battle for eyeballs includes a special live-streamed halftime show on YouTube, in addition to YouTube hosting Ad Blitz, where people can view and vote for their favorite ads that actually did air during the Super Bowl. (Last year’s Ad Blitz resulted in 379 million views on YouTube, according to Businessweek.)

Then there’s Facebook, which is “trying to get Super Bowl money even without the Super Bowl,” Horizon Media vice president Brad Adgate said to AdAge, by selling ads to companies that would be shown to Facebook users who post game-related material. “I think it’s part of their strategy to siphon off as many dollars from television as possible.”

Oh, and the network broadcasting the game on TV, NBC, is also allowing everyone to stream the entire Super Bowl online for free, which will perhaps keep some web surfers away from YouTube and Facebook.

Women will (mostly) keep their clothes on.
Super Bowl commercials have a long history of offending women and being declared downright sexist. And yes, the planned Carl’s Jr. ad featuring a seemingly naked Charlotte McKinney is perhaps one of the raciest and most juvenile Super Bowl ads ever.

But the Carl’s Jr. “all natural” commercial, which will only air in the western U.S. during the Super Bowl, is already getting bashed in certain circles. “It’s like porn meets American Pastime,” branding consultant Erika Napoletano said to USA Today. “It makes NFL cheerleaders—underpaid and underclothed—look like nuns in comparison.”

What’s more, in light of nearly half of Super Bowl viewers being women, it seems to be growing more apparent that advertisers should try to appeal to (rather than offend) the ladies. That’s part of why we’ll see ads featuring Mindy Kaling and paralympian Amy Purdy during the game. Heck, even in the Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl commercial encouraging men to buy lingerie for Valentine’s Day, the models are fully clothed (in football uniforms) rather than showing off skin in bikinis or underwear. Have a look here:

TIME Food & Drink

Crack Open a Cold One in Honor of the Beer Can’s 80th Birthday

Woman holding can of beer
Woman holding can of beer, circa 1950s. George Marks—Retrofile/Getty Images

The first canned beer was sold on Jan. 24, 1935

The beer can is a lowly vessel. It is not the stuff of special treats and celebrating milestones; it is the stuff of chugging, drinking games, tailgates and house parties. It is the only contraption that will work in that practice known as shotgunning.

The craft brewery trend has boosted beer to a higher-brow status in recent years, but the best of it seldom comes in cans. Something about the lightweight container, dense with fizz, just doesn’t convey quality the way that bottles and kegs can.

But when canned beer made its debut in the U.S. 80 years ago this weekend, it was stunningly popular.

Brewers were looking to innovate after Prohibition’s end in 1933, and packaging was one aspect ready for a makeover. It’s not that no one had ever thought to put beer in cans before—American Can Co. had been working on it since 1909, but they couldn’t figure out how to temper the carbonation so the cans didn’t explode from the 80 lbs. per sq. in. of pressure. It took about two decades for them to figure out that lining the steel cans with the same lacquer-like material they used to line kegs would keep them intact.

The folks at American Can knew they had a hit on their hands, but they needed to convince brewers to take a risk on the product, so they installed the necessary equipment for free at at the Gottfried Krueger Brewery. Cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale hit shelves in Richmond, Va. on Jan. 24, 1935—and quickly sold out.

Some new products find success because the consumer likes them better than the old alternative, and some because the producer does. In the case of the beer can, it was both.

On the production end, flat-top cans made it easier to stack and ship a bulky and inexpensive product. On the consumer end, drinkers thought the brew tasted closer to draft beer than bottles, and believed that it was less likely to be “skunked” since light can’t penetrate aluminum the way it can glass. Plus, cans required no deposit and could be discarded rather than returned to the store for a refund. In a focus group of 2,000 loyal Krueger drinkers, beer cans got a 91% approval rating.

Canned beer did so well for one brewing company, Pfeiffer, that later that year it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This was good news for management, as TIME reported in Sept. 1935:

Pfeiffer’s president is William George Breitmeyer, nephew of the German brewmaster who founded the company. Shy and laconic at his desk but jovial away from it, Brewer Breitmeyer has a simple explanation for his own success: “I have only one hobby. I collect friends.” An aid in this hobby is his stock of old German drinking songs, inherited from his uncle.

Sadly, the Trinklieder only went so far: Pfeiffer is now defunct. But thanks to a few alterations over the years (lighter aluminum material plus easy-to-open pop tabs) the beer can lives on and prospers—as of 2012, canned beer sales held 53% of market share, compared to bottled beer’s 37%. Convenience, it seems, trumps looks.

We’ll drink to that.

TIME Food & Drink

These Are the Best Craft Beers to Complement Your Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mints
Girl Scouts sell cookies as a winter storm moves in on Feb. 8, 2013 in New York City. John Moore—Getty images

Try matching Thin Mints with a Perennial 17 Mint Chocolate Stout

Girl Scout cookie season is right around the corner and for those of you who love to mix your support of the Girl Scouts with drinking, the editors of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine just released their list of “Beer Pairings for Girl Scout Cookies.”

Each cookie type is given two options, often of varying styles, which leaves prospective pairers who can’t find a specific beer with some choices.

For instance, Samoas, with their heavy dose of caramel and coconut, will stand up well to Firestone Walker’s Sucaba, a big barleywine. But for those who want to take things a little lighter, you can try Schlafly’s Biere de Garde – a French-style strong ale that still pairs well with sweetness but is less intense.

Other sensible pairings include the Scouts’ Lemonades cookies with either a 4 Hands Brewing Contact High or Drake’s Hefeweizen — two wheat beers. Although, any wheat beer you love could probably be swapped in here.

And then some suggestions just nail the pairing right on the head, like matching Thin Mints with a Perennial 17 Mint Chocolate Stout.

Head over to the Craft Beer & Brewing website to see all seven pairings.

Unfortunately, the list includes no mention of this year’s new flavor additions – Toffee-tastic, Trios and Rah-Rah Raisin (maybe because they’re still hard to find). For now, you’ll just have to improvise.

This article originally appeared on FWx.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

Want a Bud Light Delivery? There’s an App For That

Cans of Anheuser-Busch Bud Light brand beer sits in a warehouse in Peoria, Ill.
Cans of Anheuser-Busch Bud Light brand beer sits in a warehouse in Peoria, Ill. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Anheuser-Busch will deliver cold ones at the touch of a button — in the Washington D.C. area, at least

Anheuser-Busch has a special delivery planned: with the touch of a button, Bud Light beer lovers can get an order delivered straight to their home.

The at-home beer delivery service is launching in the Washington, D.C., area today. The app is initially available for Android powered smartphones, with iOS coming soon, the beer company said on Thursday. Consumers can order between one to 100 cases of beer and get it delivered in under an hour, Anheuser-Busch has promised.

The app “is about the easy of delivery and getting the product to our consumers so they can continue the fun that they are having,” said Allison Gabrys, a product developer at digital development agency AKQA, which is working with Anheuser-Busch on the initiative.

Gabrys said that when they developed the concept, it was designed for a number of occasions and purposes. Deliveries could be perfect when hanging with friends for a spontaneous game-day football viewing party or to avoid having to lug up cases of beer to that third-floor walkup apartment.

There’s no price to download the app, though Anheuser-Busch says there is a “nominal delivery fee.” Meanwhile, Americans looking for a beer delivery will need to prove they are of legal drinking age. Distribution is being handled by startup Klink, which fulfills orders through local retailers within the delivery zone of the app. Anheuser-Busch says it eventually plans to bring this service to all of the states that will allow them to run this distribution channel.

The beer delivery space is getting attention from some of the nation’s biggest beer brands after several startups have launched their own efforts to tackle the market.

MillerCoors recently launched a pilot program with startup Drizly that would deliver Miller Lite to private homes in less than an hour. That initiative was meant to court the football-loving crowd, although the delivery service is also fairly limited in scope. For now, MillerCoors is only delivering its beer to Boston, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C., in a promotion that ends on Feb. 1 (or even earlier if deliveries reach 20,000).

MillerCoors has for now lucked out on the regional bets that it has placed. The New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks are both still in the playoffs, with conference championship games set for this weekend (the teams aren’t playing each other).

“It is a great opportunity to bring e-commerce and delivery together,” said Dilini Fernando, digital marketing manager at MillerCoors. “A customer tweeted ‘Miller Time is near more than 60 minutes away’ — to be a part of that moment of purchase and to tell our story is really exciting.”

At-home delivery of beer, wine and spirits has courted attention from a handful of startups, including Drizly, Thirstie, BrewDrop, and Minibar. All of those offerings have limited reach for now. BrewDrop, for example, is only in the Austin region while Thirstie operates in just five cities.

Government regulation prevents broader adoption across all states. Seventeen U.S. states, as well as jurisdictions in four other states, have adopted forms of control over the distribution of alcoholic beverages. Those states and jurisdictions control the sale of distilled spirits, and in some cases wine, through government agencies at the wholesale level. 13 of those also control retail sales for the sale of alcoholic beverages at liquor stores, grocery stores and other retail locations.

Gabrys concedes control states are a challenge, although she added that regulation for any new startup or business venture varies from state to state, and so the at-home beer delivery service will strive to be as national as possible, despite some potential limitations. Deliveries will need to occur whenever beer can be legally sold on the retail level within the states.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Food & Drink

Conservationists Revolted by Icelandic Brewer’s Whale Testicle Beer

Environmental Groups Challenge Navy's Use Of Sonar In West Coast Training Exercises
A fin whale spouts off the southern California coast on January 29, 2012 near Long Beach, California. David McNew—Getty Images

They probably aren't the only ones

Environmentalists have urged beer drinkers to resist the temptation to drink a new flavor of beer from Iceland, spiced with hints of smoked whale testicle.

“This is a calculated move,” read a statement from Whale and Dolphin Conservation society, “not only to dishonour a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate of body parts as a marketing tool, but also sends a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and those who love and respect whales.”

Brewery co-owner Dabjartur Arilíusson told Beverage Daily that the testicles from the fin whale, an endangered species according to the World Wildlife Fund, were legally obtained from local fisheries, which were granted whaling rights this year following a two year moratorium.

Arilíusson also framed the brew as an homage to the country’s culinary past. “We work the testicle by the old traditional way” Arilíusson said, adding that each testicle was smoked with dried sheep manure.

Read more at Beverage Daily.

TIME medicine

69 People Die From Drinking Poisoned Beer

Some believe the beer was contaminated with crocodile bile

Sixty-nine people died following a funeral in Mozambique, after drinking traditional beer now thought to have been contaminated. An additional 196 people have been admitted to hospitals.

Area emergency rooms experienced an influx of patients complaining of diarrhea and muscle pain after a funeral on Saturday, Northeast Tete province Health, Women and Social Welfare Director Paula Bernardo told media. The Mozambique government has declared three days of mourning following the deaths.

The cause of the fatalities is still being investigated, but it’s believed that funeral-goers drank contaminated, and possibly poisoned, local beer. The beer is called Pombe and is made with millet or corn flour. The source of the contamination is not yet known, but the Associated Press reports that authorities believe the drink may have been contaminated with crocodile bile during the funeral.

There is no clear evidence recorded of how poisonous crocodile bile may be, and there are contradictory reports of its true toxicity.

Forbes reports that the woman who owned the beer stand, her daughter, nephew and a few members of close families were some of the first fatalities reported.

Read next: The AirAsia Flight 8501 Data Recorder Has Been Retrieved

MONEY Food & Drink

5 ‘Imported’ Beers That Are Really Brewed in the U.S.A.

Japanese Kirin Ichiban beer
Simon Dack—Alamy

If you've been buying the Japanese "import" Kirin beer brand under the impression it's actually made in Asia, you've been misled. And you've probably been paying too much for the beer.

Fortunately, you might be able to get some of that beer money back. According to Law360.com, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns Kirin alongside giant brands like Budweiser and Bud Light, recently settled a class-action lawsuit filed in Miami that alleged “the packaging, marketing and advertising of Kirin beer is designed to deceive consumers into believing they are purchasing a product made in Japan.”

In fact, Kirin—described as a “Japanese-style pilsner” on the Anheuser-Busch website—is brewed in Virginia and southern California.

A statement offered to the press from A-B said, “We believe our labeling, packaging and marketing of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light have always been truthful.” Yet the company agreed to settlement terms that include no further use of the word “imported” relating to Kirin, more prominent disclosure on labels concerning where the product is actually brewed, and refunds to people who bought Kirin and have receipts to prove it. Customers can get money back to the tune of 10¢ per bottle or can, 50¢ per six-pack, and $1 per 12-pack. No matter how much Kirin you’ve purchased, the maximum payment per household is $50.

What’s interesting, and somewhat ironic, about the alleged trickery is that the labels and marketing would be implying a beer was made somewhere other than the U.S. in the first place. After all, the “Made in the USA” label is a selling point for all manner of goods lately. And in an era when Budweiser, Coors, and other iconic “American” brands—even Pabst, for cryin’ out loud!—are in the hands of foreign owners, smaller brewers have gone to special lengths pointing out that their beers are thoroughly American.

What’s more, consider the swift rise of American craft beer’s reputation around the globe, and how the hot trend is for beer-loving countries like Germany to import top-quality American beer rather than the other way around. Given the modern-day beer landscape, if anything, you’d think that beer companies would be more inclined to fudge that a product was brewed in the vibrant American beer scene even if it wasn’t.

But Kirin, and a few other mass-market “imports” (see below), gained their footholds in the marketplace during a different era—one in which beers were deemed superior to American brews simply by claims of foreignness. So, in the same way that the world’s biggest brewers continue to blur the lines of what brews are truly worthy of the “craft beer” label, there remains a proliferation of a few beer brands that seem to originate overseas, and that one would understandably assume are made overseas, and yet truthfully are produced right here in America.

In addition to Kirin, the faux imports below are all brewed in the U.S.:

Beck’s. Like Kirin, this Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brand is the subject of a class-action lawsuit claiming deceptive marketing because the labels use phrases such as “Originated in Germany” and “German Quality.” Beck’s is actually brewed in 15 different countries, including the U.S., so the Beck’s you buy in this country was most likely produced here.

Foster’s Lager. Billed as a “uniquely Australian beer” by corporate parent SABMiller, Foster’s has been brewed in Texas for years. British pub patrons may also be surprised to know that the Foster’s on tap there is made in Manchester, England, not Down Under.

Killian’s Irish Red. In fairness, MillerCoors lists the Killian’s brand under the category of “Craft” rather than “Import.” But craft beer insiders wouldn’t call Killian’s either. The Killian’s website runs through the history of the brand, which originated in with “the first batch of Enniscorthy Ruby Ale” made by George Killian himself in Ireland. It glosses over how the name was purchased in the 1980s by Coors, and that it’s been brewed in Colorado for decades.

Red Stripe. When sold in the U.S., the iconic grenade bottles of Red Stripe used to feature the word “Imported” on its label. But starting in 2012, when production for the U.S. market was switched from Jamaica to Wisconsin, the Diageo-Guinnness-owned beer dropped the “I” word and tweaked the label to reflect its status as merely a “Jamaican Style Lager.” Nonetheless, plenty of drinkers assume it’s still made and imported from the Caribbean.

[UPDATE: Somehow we overlooked that Bass Ale, the “original English Pale Ale” that was actually served on the Titanic, is now also brewed in the U.S. (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), and some drinkers sure aren’t happy about how the American-produced version tastes.]

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TIME ces 2015

This Robot is the World’s Best Beer Pong Player

Despite its talent, drinking games are not the robot's primary function

Sorry frat guys, you’re about to become obsolete. Ahead of this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Empire Robotics showed its new creation, the VERSABALL, absolutely crushing a round of beer pong. Despite its talent, drinking games are not the primary function of the VERSABALL. It’s actually a robot that grips and lifts, made to perform tasks for the disabled or to tackle jobs like screwing in a light bulb in a hard-to-reach place. But someone at Empire—probably just after happy hour—realized that this invention could also succeed in throwing a pingpong ball into a plastic cup better than any human ever could.

And lest you think this is just a step toward the automation of the college experience, there is an actual reason the VERSABALL is playing pong: It is meant to show off the ability of the robot to handle delicate objects without damaging them. And to that end, it does a great job.

To see if the machines really are taking over, you can watch the VERSABALL in a robot matchup at CES that took place Jan. 6, when it played the winner of the World Series of Beer Pong—which is also going on right now in Vegas.

The smart betting is on the VERSABALL, but we’ll see what happens after it’s had five or six beers.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

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TIME People

Brewery Apologizes for Putting Gandhi on a Beer Can

Company says the image and label was meant as tribute

A Connecticut brewery publicly apologized to Indians offended by its label that uses Mohandas Gandhi’s name and image on its Gandhi-Bot beer.

The apology came after a petition was filed in an Indian court arguing that New England Brewing Co.’s use of the image on alcohol was punishable by law, the BBC reports. Gandhi himself had come down harshly against alcohol during his life.

The company posted an apology to its Facebook page on Jan. 3, writing that the beer was meant as a tribute to the civil rights icon and that Gandhi’s family members were aware of the label and liked it:

We apologize to any Indian people that find our Gandhi-Bot label offensive. Our intent is not to offend anyone but rather pay homage and celebrate a man who we respect greatly. We take great care in creating a product we hope will not be abused in the manner that Mahatma Gandhi spoke of when referencing alcohol. So many Indian people here in America love our tribute to him. Gandhi’s granddaughter and grandson have seen the label and have expressed their admiration of the label. We hope that you understand our true intent and learn to respect our method and the freedom we have to show our reverence for Gandhi.

On its website, New England Brewing Co. describes the beer as an Indian pale ale with a blend of three American Hops. “Aromatic and fully vegetarian, Gandhi-Bot is an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love.”

MONEY Shopping

The 3 Things People Buy on Christmas Day

The shopping frenzy may be over, but that doesn't mean people aren't shelling out for these things on Christmas Day.

Christmas is supposed to be the day the buying frenzy ends. But consumerism never rests, not even for a single day. Especially not if you’re spending money on these three things, which top the list of Christmas Day purchases.

1. Movie Tickets

OK, you’ve opened presents, you’ve schmoozed with cousin Ralph, you’ve had your fill of turkey—now what? I know, let’s go see a movie! That impulse has made Christmas day openings a huge source of profits for Hollywood.

Major flicks like Annie and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (not to mention some movie about North Korea) are opening Christmas Eve, and if history is any guide, they’ll have a chance to make quite a bit of coin. Last year, total domestic box office gross for the week that included Christmas was almost $400,000. According to BoxOfficeMojo, the single-day record for Christmas earnings belongs to Robert Downey Jr.’s 2012 Sherlock Holmes remake, which took in $25.6 million.

2. Chinese Food

The stereotype of non-Christians eating Chinese food on Christmas appears to be based in truth, according to Slate. The site partnered with food delivery app GrubHub to find out how much interest in Chinese food increased on Christmas by measuring what percentage the cuisine made up out of all the service’s orders and then looking at how much that percentage increased on Christmas.

The result? Chinese food experienced a relative increase in order percentage of 152% on Christmas (at least in the urban areas GrubHub servers). So there you have it: Christmas is definitely a big day for Chinese restaurants.

3. Booze

Going to a movie solves some of the stress of hanging out with the in-laws, but you can’t spend all of Christmas in the theater. How to get through the rest of the holiday? According to a Yahoo’s “Alcohol and America” survey, the answer is, well, a stiff drink. Respondents listed Christmas as one of their favorite drinking holidays, second only to New Year’s Day. It’s no accident that Budweiser launched a holiday marketing project to sell expensive, “vintage” crates of beer to millennials.

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