WWTT? Budweiser Shares Spooky Mugshots in ‘Drink Wiser’ Campaign

In celebration of the spooky season, Budweiser put a Halloween spin on its “Drink Wiser” campaign, enlisting the help of those who know how much it sucks to be arrested for irresponsible drinking.

Halloween isn’t just for trick-or-treaters, however it seems that many of the “treats” for adult revelers often involve bars, parties, and alcohol, and thus many of the tricks can be less than amusing … especially when drinking and driving are combined. So in celebration of the spooky season, Budweiser put a Halloween spin on its “Drink Wiser” campaign, enlisting the help of those who know how much it sucks to be arrested for irresponsible drinking.

The Drink Wiser campaign kicked off originally in 2018, taking on the topic of binge-drinking and alcohol-impaired driving. In the original effort, Budweiser promoted the importance of hydrating in-between beers, as well as planning ahead regarding safe transportation options home.

For Halloween, Budweiser continued to promote the same efforts, but with a season-appropriate twist for its social media and digital out-of-home (OOH) visuals: The macrobrewer worked with actual individuals who were arrested for irresponsible drinking during Halloween seasons of the past.

Budweiser 'Drink Wiser' Campaign
Credit: Budweiser

While these aren’t the actual mug shots of Sharyn W., Cesar O., or Ameneh K., Budweiser opted to re-imagine these three individuals in Halloween costumes that had clearly seen better days. With the tagline of “Don’t Let Halloween Haunt You Forever,” the campaign’s digital OOH ads will be present in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia.

For the social component of the campaign, Budweiser has advised fans to follow it on Twitter, @BudweiserUSA, as well as turn on tweet notifications to receive reminders to drink responsibly and hydrate with water between beers.

According to an Anheuser-Busch (parent company of Budweiser) press release, Budweiser has been involved in cause marketing for over a century. “Budweiser Means Moderation” was the brewer’s first responsible drinking message — dating back to over a 100 years ago — and its first responsible drinking campaign “Know When to Say When” debuted over 35 years ago.

Halloween can be quite the party holiday for many, and it’s smart of Budweiser to come out ahead of it, reminding people to consume its products responsibly. The Halloween costume-themed mug shots are a great visual to use, and hopefully have people thinking twice about drinking and driving.

We see a lot of campaigns that — rightly so — show just how horrible drinking and driving can be for all involved. But I appreciate that Budweiser mixed humor and shame together to get the point across about irresponsible drinking this Halloween.

Budweiser vs. Stella Artois: Battle of Rebranded Cans

Let me be transparent: I don’t drink beer from any of the macro breweries. But in the past couple of weeks there has been talk about two major can rebrands: One from Budweiser and one from Stella Artois, which both — interestingly enough — are owned by Belgium-based conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Beer memeLet me be transparent: I don’t drink beer from any of the macro breweries. To me, everything from Coors to Budweiser tastes like … nothing (sorry Dad!). I’m a craft beer kind of girl, and I’ll take Resurgence Brewing’ Co.’s IPA any day of the week (plus twice on Sunday).

But in the past couple of weeks there has been talk about two major can rebrands: One from Budweiser and one from Stella Artois, which both — interestingly enough — are owned by Belgium-based conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Let’s talk about Budweiser, oh wait, I mean America, first.

On May 9, Budweiser announced it was renaming its flagship beer from May 23 until the election, as well as changing up a number of other elements on the rebranded cans and bottles.

In place of “AB” is “US,” “E Pluribus Unum,” takes the place of “King of Beers,” along the bottom of the can “Liberty & Justice for All” replaces “Anheuser-Busch” and more.

Budweiser America canLast week, my colleague Taylor Knight wrote a really smart article about how Budweiser’s renaming to America was a pretty genius marketing move. She did a great job, but sadly, I’m still not buying it.

I understand Budweiser often reworks its label designs for the summer months in the US, especially playing around with July 4th being America’s birthday (check out this gallery of images). But a reworked label design is a different beast than renaming your two-for-one happy hour beer “America.”

I’m also a bit put off by the idea of the company capitalizing on the presidential election frenzy in the US. It just seems … icky.

But I’m not the only one not thrilled by this tactic … Michigan-based Saugatuck Brewery took to Twitter to share its thoughts (I’m sure someone there had fun with this …)

Then there’s Stella Artois, who commissioned BBDO Ukraine to design a limited edition series of cans in honor of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Stella Artois' rebranded cans to celebrate the Cannes Film Festival
When speaking to AdWeek, BBDO Ukraine’s Creative Group Head Denis Keleberdenko said:

“Story is what Stella Artois stands for. And traditionally Stella Artois supports the Cannes Film Festival, so we show a story that happens in Cannes, in four parts, for each can. There’s accidents, unexpected twists, a chase, drama, a beautiful woman, a kiss at the end and even a helicopter! It’s almost a film on cans, actually.”

What’s even cooler is, as mentioned in the video above, there are clues on each of the cans, which leads you to more stories that then come together as a web movie. That’s pretty cool.

For Stella, the can design has changed, but the name remains the same (and iconic). To be honest, I’m not a fan of this beer either (pilsners just aren’t my bag!), but looking at this campaign … it feels more authentic than Budweiser.

Resurgence Brewing Co.'s Resurgence IPA
Image courtesy of Buffalo Beer Chemist

But only time will tell! I’m curious if there will be an uptick in sales of either beer … or additional talk about them on social media. Nevertheless, I know the beer I’m bringing on my vacation to the Adirondacks this summer is going to feature a rather stately buffalo on its cans.