February 6, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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AB InBev’s Super Bowl 2023 strategy: Bud Light’s new tagline, Michelob Ultra’s ‘Caddyshack’ play and Bud goes regional

Benoit Garbe, AB InBev’s U.S. chief marketing officer, in an interview argued that marketing money once devoted to a heavy Super Bowl presence is better spent throughout the year, including the summer when most beer and seltzers are consumed, and the fall football season. “Second is the realization that [the Super Bowl] hasn’t really been exclusive for many years,” he added. “Competitors have been buying regional. They’ve been present online.

“I feel very confident with our brands, that the creativity will really break through,” Garbe continued. “And ultimately, I think we are embracing the change. We want to lead and grow the category. So, welcoming more competition is a great way to grow and foster the category as well.”

A new day for Bud Light

Long known for its humorous Super Bowl ads—yet stuck in a lengthy sales decline—Bud Light will begin anew behind the debut campaign from its new agency, Anomaly. The work will introduce a new tagline—“Easy to drink. Easy to enjoy”—and a tone that Garbe described as “more confident, more magnetic [and] more aspirational,” than before.

“So, less trying to be funny and the joker, and little bit more true to who we are,” Garbe said.

Trey Edward Shults is directing the Super Bowl ad, which the brewer said would include “one of Hollywood’s hottest stars,” without revealing the identity.

Garbe said the Bud Light commercial would establish a brand voice that will be consistent and show up 52 weeks a year. “We had [growth] spikes, and now we’re going to have a consistent range with high frequency across the year.” The company is also committed to spending locally and targeting Hispanic consumers, he added.

“A big part of what I’ve been doing over the last year is bringing this idea of cohesion into everything we do with our brands. And Super Bowl is the starting point of the full campaign for Bud Light,” said Garbe, who was named CMO in late 2021. “It will be consistent and cohesive throughout the year and throughout all the touchpoints. So what you’re going to see is not just a one-off Super Bowl ad [but] really the big launch of everything we’ll be doing for the rest of the year.”

Garbe said the goal of the campaign would be to stabilize Bud Light, which has lost share for more than a dozen years but remains America’s top-selling beer brand.

“We know mainstream has been on the decline over the last many years. And that’s why [we have] a portfolio, building out our premium and super premium portfolio with brands like Stella Artois, and Kona Big Wave, and Estrella,” Garbe said. “Our goal with Bud Light is to stabilize our share. It’s not about turning around the category … it’s about fighting harder, protecting our share. Ideally, we could even win and grow share, but the goal is stabilizing the mainstream.”

Michelob Ultra hits the links

Fast-growing Michelob Ultra—on a trajectory to supplant Bud Light as the country’s top-selling beer—will get two spots during the game that the brewer touted as including “a handful of firsts for Anheuser-Busch, a roster of superstar athletes, can’t-miss brand collaborations, innovative consumer experiences and epic entertainment partnerships.”

The spots for Ultra, with creative from Wieden+Kennedy, will emphasize its tagline “It’s only worth it if you enjoy it,” and retain the creative construct from last year of “athletes finding joy on the field and off the field,” Garbe said. But whereas last year’s spots took place in a bowling alley inspired by “The Big Lebowski” this year’s ads will take place on a golf course and would appear to be inspired by the 1980 comedy “Caddyshack.” The spots are directed by Rachel Morrison.


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