Pop Culture 2019: HBO’s Bold Ad for Game of Thrones in Super Bowl

HBO and Anheuser-Busch changed Super Bowl commercial conventions Sunday night by running a 60-second promo in which the brewer’s famous Bud Knight was killed in violent fashion in a spot that morphed from beer ad to a pitch for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

HBO teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev for the daring execution.

In the spot, HBO’s Game of Thrones interrupts a typical Bud Light commercial, in which residents of a happy kingdom protected by the famous Bud Knight cavort about in humorous escapades.   However, the humor quickly dissipated after the Knight was vanquished and a dragon flies over the kingdom and burns its residents with fire.

This year, CBS has been seeking between $5.1 million and $5.3 million for a 30 seconds of ad time in the Super Bowl.

Big mainstream beers have declined in popularity in recent years, but HBO also faces heady competition from streaming-video players like Netlflix and Amazon, and rival pay-cable services like Showtime and Starz.

The Bud Light ad allowed HBO to reel in hundreds of millions of viewers who expect bawdy humor from Anheuser every year, and then stun them with the Game of Thrones twist.