WWTT? Bud Light Promotes #OpenForTakeout During COVID-19

We’ve all heard about breweries and distilleries making hand sanitizer, as well as automakers producing medical equipment. But for this week’s “What Were They Thinking?” I have something a little different, but important: a campaign from Bud Light that supports the restaurant and bar industry, badly hit by COVID-19.

March 2020  which felt like it was a year long  is finally over. However, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over; many of us are staying at home under order of our local, state, or national governments, and doing the best we can personally and professionally. Through it all, it’s been uplifting to see communities come together to support each other (of course, while practicing the phrase of the year: social distancing), as well as the myriad brands stepping up and away from business as usual to also do their part.

We’ve all heard about breweries and distilleries shifting production to hand sanitizer, as well as automakers realigning their plants to produce the much needed medical equipment that healthcare workers need. These are such important stories, which have been covered a lot (as they should be). But for this week’s “What Were They Thinking?” I have something a little different, yet still important: a campaign from Bud Light in an effort to support the restaurant and bar industry, badly hit by COVID-19.

Our local restaurants and bars feed us; give us a place to come together with friends and family; and they make up so many of the important small businesses in our communities. While some have had to shutter, there are others who have managed to stay open (again, depending on local and state regulations here in the U.S.), offering takeout and delivery options. And this is where Bud Light steps in.

On Mar. 25, Bud Light debuted a new campaign, “Open for Takeout.” Powered by Bud Light, the new website encourages those establishments still open within the restaurant and bar industry to submit their info to be included on the website. The site’s focus is to help consumers across the U.S. locate spots that are #OpenForTakeout, while still practicing safe social distancing.

While money might be tough for a lot of people right now, there are those individuals who do have the spare cash for a takeout meal, which means Bud Light using their extensive reach can go a long way in extending the reach of the restaurant and bars they aim to help.

For me personally, there are at least 157 restaurants or bars within a 10-mile radius of my ZIP code, which gives me a lot of options after being cooped up all day in front of a computer and having no desire to cook (it happens from time to time).

Bud Light also is diverting some of their media spend to drive awareness of this consumer resource, offering added visibility for #OpenForTakeout, and their parent company, Anheuser-Busch has the following initiatives planned to support other COVID-19 efforts:

  • $5 million donation to the American Red Cross, as well as the donation of media air time to the Red Cross for PSAs.
  • Working alongside sports partners, Anheuser-Busch will identify available arenas and stadiums to be used for temporary blood drive centers.
  • The company’s tour centers in St. Louis, Mo. and Merrimack, NH will be made available to the Red Cross.
  • Anheuser-Busch’s supply and logistics network will produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer will be used at Red Cross blood donation centers, as well as in an effort to support shelters for future relief efforts.

This partnership between the macro brewer and the Red Cross is, again, just another example of brands stepping away from business as usual, and considering what they can do with the resources and talent they have to play a role in the fight against the pandemic.

As for Bud Light’s initiative, this is personal for me (and I’m sure many others). I’m fortunate to know a lot of wonderful people in Philadelphia’s vibrant food and drink scene, and it crushes me to see so many of them out of work, many fighting to obtain unemployment, uncertain of their futures, and the restaurants and bars that once employed them facing the heartbreaking question of if they’ll ever be able to open their doors again.

I hope Bud Light’s Open for Takeout campaign truly helps those in the restaurant and bar industry across the country who are still open and feeding their local communities.

And finally, in my previous post from a couple weeks ago, I looked at two well-done email messages about COVID-19 that hit my inbox. Some readers shared publicly in the comments, as well as privately in emails to me, about what they had worked on and the response received, as well as about some of the good pieces they received themselves.

Feel free to keep commenting, and send me messages about what you’ve seen and done as well. As I’ve said, now is the time for sharing good news, and celebrating the little victories.

WWTT? Bud Light Won’t Give Up the ‘Corn Syrup’ Bit

The “Corn War” has been going on since the Super Bowl, when Bud Light used its very expensive air time during the Big Game to call out its competition for using corn syrup in their beers. And the brewer doesn’t show signs of stopping, despite a judge’s ruling.

The “Corn War” has been going on since the Super Bowl, when Bud Light used its very expensive air time during the Big Game to call out its competition — Miller Lite and Coors Lite — for using corn syrup in their beers.

[brightcove videoplayer=”5999581959001″ width=”100%” height=”100%” autostart=”false”]

The back and forth between the brewers escalated,with MillerCoors parrying Bud Light’s attacks, but decided enough was enough in March and sued Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, alleging the ads are false and misleading.

In late May, a Wisconsin judge ordered AB InBev to stop advertising that MillerCoors’ light beers contain corn syrup, though the order does not affect all of Bud Light’s advertising — it was ruled that the “Special Delivery” ads premiered during the Super Bowl could keep airing. According to the preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge William Conley for the Western District of Wisconsin granted, AB InBev would be temporarily prevented from using the term “corn syrup” without providing more context in ads.

MillerCoors was pleased with the initial ruling, and on Sept. 4 Judge Conley modified the ruling. The court stated:

“Following additional briefing and factual submissions by the parties, the court will now modify its preliminary injunction to cover packaging, but will allow defendant to sell products using the packaging it had on hand as of June 6, 2019, or until March 2, 2020.”

But none of this has really stopped Bud Light, since the brewer has new 15-second ads ready for the start of football season.

https://youtu.be/kyzXk4U7GiM

While the “brewed with no corn syrup” statement is still made, it’s a bit more subtle than in the past. AB InBev is appealing the judge’s ruling, but seems to have thrown caution to the wind with the new ads.

What do you think marketers? Are you sick and tired of the Corn War, twitching whenever you hear “corn syrup” or are you sitting back and enjoying as the Big 3 breweries fight it out while craft breweries continue to focus on brewing quality, quaffable beverages? Let me know in the comments below!

St. Patrick’s Day Marketing Plan? Skip It

St. Patrick’s Day is less than two weeks away, and I have a hot marketing stat for you: 87 percent* of marketers have no tie to this holiday — what originated as an Irish religious holiday, mind you — so that means 87 percent of marketers shouldn’t be burning the midnight oil coming up with St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaigns.

Grumpy Cat You're Not Irish You're Drunk on St. Patrick's DaySt. Patrick’s Day is less than two weeks away, and I have a hot marketing stat for you: 87 percent* of marketers have no tie to this holiday — what originated as an Irish religious holiday, mind you — so that means 87 percent of marketers shouldn’t be burning the midnight oil coming up with St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaigns.

“Awww, where’s the fun in that?!” you yell. “Everyone loves being Irish for the day!”

Fun fact: There’s more to being Irish than partying while wearing ridiculous green outfits. Green beer is not a thing, and ordering an Irish Car Bomb is never, EVER acceptable.

I know, I know, at this point you’re probably calling me The Authenticity Police or The Relevance Hound behind my back. But here’s the thing: I’m so over slapdash marketing campaigns jockeying for the low hanging fruit.

St. Patrick's Day Partying
Source: Viewthevibe.com (Yes, the stupidity even stretches to Toronto)

Don’t Be That Guy

So here are two St. Patrick’s Day failed campaigns to consider before you jump on the Erin Express, shared with love from a lady whose family is from Ireland … we’re of the Donegal Wards.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Think before you do something. Think before you tweet. Research before you create a product. Otherwise, you end up looking like Nike and Bud Light.

Nike Black and Tan sneakersNike launched these sneakers in 2012 in time for St. Patrick’s day, calling them the “Black and Tan” … which most Americans are familiar with as the drink combining Guinness and a lager.

However, the term Black and Tan is very different for the Irish, and when Nike tried introducing these shoes to that market, it didn’t go over well.

Why? “Black and Tan” is a derogatory term for a British parliamentary unit sent to squash the Irish rebellion in the 1920s that also led to many violent attacks against civilians. According to this Telegraph article, Nike apologized … but still. This could have been avoided.

And Bud Light? Yeah, well this is what happens when you tweet without thinking first:

Bud Light tweetBud Light released this gem into the world in 2015, and it was met with backlash. The tweet was deleted, but the screw-up lives on. (And don’t even get me started on the #Upforwhatever hashtag … ugh.)

Perhaps you should leave the St. Patrick’s Day advertising to Guinness, Tullamore Dew, Discover Ireland and Jameson. And if you are going to be “Irish for the day” … do me a favor and don’t be a flaming eejit.

*Yes I made this up, but I’m sure you get my point.

Experiences Cut Through the Noise

We live in a world where all forms of information — from the hottest entertainment to the most niche marketing messages — are a finger click away. They’re ubiquitous. They’re more and more boring! But people will still pay attention to an experience.

Experiences MatterI think maybe we’re missing the lesson behind the success of Pokémon Go, and a few other things that have grown more popular among younger adults in recent years (city living, Fitbits, boutique food, the rise of pop culture conventions): Experiences matter.

We live in a world where all forms of information — from the hottest entertainment to the most niche gadgets — are a finger click away. They’re ubiquitous. They’re more and more boring!

But people will still pay attention to an experience.

They want to pay attention to experiences! They’re hungry for them. The more online and virtual life gets, the more people want to leave the house and get their hands and feet into what they’re doing.

Despite the fears of some prognosticators, Americans are not going quietly into that good night of Wall-E fat-o-loungers.

Scene from Wall-E
Pixar knows what scares us better than Stephen King.

Give people something they want to do, and they’ll leap at the opportunity to do it.

How Can You Use Experiences in Your Marketing?

Pokémon Go has people looking all over the real world to find and train Pokémon, from school yards to downtown monuments. Those are experiences. They create memories. And those memories will forever be linked to the Pokémon brand.

Offering an experience can take a lot of forms. Many party-friendly brands like beer and soft drinks put on summer parties or concerts. Remember Bud Light’s “Anywhere USA” campaign last year? Contests that ask viewers to create a video or something else that takes effort can also be great experiences.

Those are pretty obvious experiences, but I think something like Zappos’s #ImNotABox box counts too. Look at how engaging with this box engages Melissa and Rob in this video, and how it reinforces the Zappos brand as a personal experience to them.

More Experiences Mean More Sales

Marketers know that the more channels you get someone to engage with you on, the more likely they are to make repeat purchases. Similarly, sales people know that every small action you can get your prospect to take (take the call, have a cup of coffee, look at our website with me, critique their current bill, etc.) is one step closer to saying yes to the sale.

Connect those dots: There’s more noise and information than ever before, it’s boring, and it’s in the way of your marketing getting to your target market. They’re glutted on information, but hungry for experiences. Every experience you get them to participate in brings them one step closer to making purchases and becoming repeat customers.

Think about what experiences your target market wants and how you can give it to them. If you can get them to make a connection with you there, you’re a lot more likely to make a connection with their wallets later.