The folks at Bud Light have a small problem.
You see, they decided to honor Super Bowl 50 with a commemorative series of cans and bottles that honor the past Super Bowl winners and distribute them around the hometown of the winning team.
The problem is that not every team still plays in the same city, such as our Colts, who won titles in Baltimore and Indianapolis. That leads to Baltimore celebratory cans on the shelves of central Indiana supermarkets.
Most cities don’t share our confusion.
San Francisco 49ers fans, for instance, will not have the opportunity to cheer on their favorite team when this year’s Super Bowl is contested in the Bay Area, but they can hold on to Bud Light cans commemorating the 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989 and 1994 championship teams. There also will be a special Super Bowl 50 can for them to sip from.
“If I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and the Steelers have won six Super Bowls, then I want the collection,” Bud Light vice president Alexander Lambrecht told Fortune. He added that there has seen a significant uptick in sales in local markets where the version is introduced. “I think consumers will keep the cans as a souvenir or drink it and keep as an empty souvenir.”
Indeed, single empty cans are selling for as much as $13 on eBay, presumably to out-of-market fans. One man’s trash apparently is another’s treasure.
It is in the distribution, though, that the brilliant idea meets a speed bump in the form of team relocation.
What to do with those Super Bowl winners that no longer play in the same city?
How about those 1984 Los Angeles Rams? Will fans flock to buy a collector’s edition bottle of the team that later moved to St. Louis?
Former champions who moved on to other locales present a special obstacle — leaving a literal bad taste in the mouths of spurned fans in former homes. The special edition logos, like the teams themselves, moved on to the new locale.
That is why you can now visit your local Indianapolis beverage proprietor and drink Bud Light from a can commemorating the 1971 Baltimore Colts.
This Bud’s for who? That’s right, long live Earl Morrall and our first Colts’ Super Bowl.
Not feeling a wave of nostalgia? Don’t worry. If you are only a post-1984 Colts fan, your time is coming. The release of cans for those in a market with multiple winners is staggered. That is why the 1971 Colts are featured now. The 2007 Colts will be honored in a later release.
The Bud Light guys may claim a surge in sales, but local buzz here is less dramatic than even the Colts’ rushing attack.
“There is not too much reaction at all,” said Bev Gillen, manager of the Payless Liquors on the northeast side of Greenwood Park Mall. “We’ve had people come in and want all kind of cans from different teams. But we only are supplied with those of the team here.”
Of course, that “team here” is the Baltimore-now-Indianapolis Colts, winner of the 1971 title.
“It is an odd situation,” Gillen said.
Odd yes, but a situation that is sure to attract niche collectors. After all, gold-toned beer cans that pay homage to 50 Super Bowls don’t come along every day. Whether Baltimore, Indianapolis or somewhere in between, there is a market out there waiting to be tapped.
Let me do the math for you using the prices of eBay sellers (who claim multiple purchases). At $13 a can, you can buy a case of Bud Light for $16 or so, drink the beer and sell the empties for $312. Whether you are a fan of the Baltimore-now-Indianapolis Colts or the Cleveland-now-Baltimore Ravens, that is a good deal
Meanwhile, those guys at Bud Light are on to their next project. This is one that should please fans in all locales — a 78-can Bud-E fridge that alerts your cellphone through a text message when you are about to run out of beer.