That doesn't mean it shouldn't.
As of midyear 2013, craft beer shipments were up 13% from the same six months the year before. The craft brewers that make up the Brewers Association beer industry group now account for more than 7% of all beer shipments and roughly 11% of all sales. For the sake of comparison, that's a larger presence than that of Constellation Brands' Crown Imports -- which accounts for nearly 6% of the overall U.S. beer market thanks largely to its Corona brand. Crown saw shipments increase 3% last year as a tweak in Anheuser-Busch InBev's buyout of Corona parent company Modelo gave Constellation brands all U.S. rights to that Mexican brewer's brands.
If not for that deal with A-B, Constellation Brands might be more open to airing a beachside Super Bowl ad of its own and squeezing the megabrewer's market share like a twist of lime. But A-B's shipments already slid 3.4% in the first half of 2013, which would seem a lot worse if main U.S. rival MillerCoors hadn't recorded a 4% drop over the same span.
That leaves a wide-open opportunity for smaller brewers to strike back at big beer during its premiere event. A-B InBev and MillerCoors -- the U.S. joint venture of international megabrewers SABMiller and MolsonCoors -- account for roughly 75% of U.S. beer shipments, according to Beer Marketers' Insights. Since the recession, that share has fallen steadily as the popularity of flagship brands including Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite has decreased.
Even regional brewers including Pottsville, Pa.-based D.G. Yuengling & Sons -- whose Yuengling Lager outsells MillerCoors' Blue Moon and A-B's Bud Ice and is among the Top 20 brands in the country -- have made inroads as the big breweries faltered. Yet Yuengling's plan shuns ads and big social media blitzes in favor of pouring money into keeping down the cost of its core product. Besides, the Super Bowl would hit a bigger audience than Yuengling and its Pennsylvania and Florida breweries could serve.
"Yuengling products are only available in 14 states along the East Coast (and D.C.), and although we would be proud to announce our position as America's Oldest Brewery to the world, only a small fraction of those watching could actually be in a position to purchase our products," Lou Romano, director of marketing and wholesaler development for Yuengling, told us a few years back. "Taking that into consideration, our buy would actually cost more per individual viewer -- who is in a position to buy -- than a global corporation like ABI."
Still, there are some small brewers out there with enough business and availability to get a boost from a Super Bowl ad. While a $4 million ad is still a bit steep for any of them, the following five groups and companies may be reaching the point where such a big spend would be worthwhile: