Beer produced in 2012: 2.73 million barrels
"Are you kidding? The big brewers are 80 times our size. Advertising on the Super Bowl is out of our league when one ad costs $3.5 million. Our money is better spent on hops."
That's what founder and president Jim Koch told us in 2012 when we asked about the potential for a Samuel Adams Super Bowl ad. At the time Samuel Adams was one of the few breweries of its size to actually produce commercials and now has not only a dedicated YouTube page but a playlist of its TV spots -- with almost none of them bearing the trademark George Thorogood riffs of its early run of commercials.
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Its full-year advertising and promotional expenses now come in just under $200 million, or roughly $26 million to $32 million more than they were in 2012. That would make a Super Bowl ad roughly 2% of the grand total, which is significant, but not out of the realm of possibility.
Also consider that Samuel Adams is in a unique position that many of its craft beer cohorts aren't. Not only is it on track to bring in $800 million in revenue and nearly $400 million in gross profit this year, but it's able to run side projects such as its Burlington, Vt.-based Alchemy & Science wing. That branch is developing brands and working on styles including shandies and has acquired brands and breweries including Southern California Brewing and Coney Island Craft Lagers.
It can also build a cider brand from the bottom up and transform it into the in the United States. Angry Orchard has grown exponentially since launching in 2012 and inspired Boston Beer to spend on some commercials for its workhorse cider brand.
We understand Koch's underdog mentality and realize a Super Bowl commercial goes against many of the reasons he began his business, but that business has grown substantially in the past 30 years or so. Not only does a Samuel Adams or Angry Orchard Super Bowl commercial not seem out of the question, but it would be almost odd if NFL fans didn't see one in the next five years or so -- especially when its own ads imply that it's lost clout with discriminating beer drinkers.