Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 05:30PM
By Barry Janoff
Nysportsjournalism.com; December 23, 2018: What happens when you put NBA(National Basketball Association) players in a Budweiser commercial? You get a message to “drink water.”
Budweiser has been an official sponsor of MLB (Major League Baseball) since 1980 and a sponsor of the NBA since 1998. This year, for the first time since these deals were signed, Anheuser-Busch InBev is allowed to use active athletes from these leagues in commercials, versus what had been the norm of featuring only retired players and coaches in alcohol marketing. The change came after the brewer signed pacts in September with the players unions for both the NBA and MLB. The deal enabled Anheuser-Busch’s Bud brand to unveil this weekend “Deck The Shelves With NBA Elves: Drink Water,” what is essentially a “drink responsibly” message starring Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers), Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks) and Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder).
The extended 40-second spot will break during the NBA’s five-game schedule on Christmas Day (ESPN, ABC), which includes games with the teams from all three of the players.
The focus of the spot, which sees the players dressed in elf versions of their respective NBA team, is to drink water between rounds of alcohol.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which causes dehydration because it amplifies the need to urinate. Drinking water keeps the body hydrated and also helps to soften some effects of drinking, such as hangovers and dizziness, according to some scientific studies.
Players are not shown holding or drinking beer or harder alcoholic beverages.
Support includes digital and social media, where Budweiser offered on its Twitter page, “HAPPY H₂OLIDAYS! @KyleKuzma, @RealStevenAdams, and @t_hardJR are watching to make sure you hydrate between Buds. #DrinkWiser #ThisBudsForYou.” The NFL sill prohibits showing active players in alcohol marketing.
In the spot, a man and his son are watching TV and enjoying Buds when Kuzma appears, sitting on a shelf in their living room. “What is that!?” asks the startled son. “That’s Kyle Kuzma on a shelf,” the dad replies nonchalantly. “He’s watching to make sure we hydrate between drinking Buds. He’s actually pretty encouraging. Watch this.”
Dad puts down his beer and takes a sip of water. “Way to hydrate!” Kuzma exclaims. When the son follows Dad’s example and takes a drink of water, Kuzma shouts, “Drained it . . . Drip, drip.”
Hardaway Jr. is sitting on a shelf at a concession stand (which appears to be in Madison Square Garden) when a man and woman order beers and “a couple of waters.” “Water!” shouts Hardaway Jr. as he starts to shimmy on the shelf. “Splash! Taking a bath.”
In OKC, a woman in a sports bar orders a Bud and a water. “And one!” yells Adams, sitting on a shelf behind the bar. “Hydration.” A voiceover offers, “Budweiser reminds you to drink wiser. Drink responsibly and stay hydrated this holiday season.” The extended spot will run in shorter versions focusing on each player in their respective market.
Kevin Durant was the focus of a Budweiser ad this past May as a homage to his Mom, which also showed clips of various NBA players in action, including LeBron James, but did not include product shots or scenes of people holding beers.
Budweiser has also been part of individual team activations, including as a sponsor of the Atlanta Hawks 50th anniversary celebration this season and as title sponsor for the Orlando Magic’s Budweiser Legends that revisited the team’s history with former players and executives.
Budweiser also has activation during such league jewel events as the All-Star Game. Budweiser is expected to roll out marketing with active MLB players this coming season.