September 21, 2023

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Is Bud Light football marketing enough to save the brand?

Veteran beer ad executive Marty Stock, who worked on AB InBev, Molson Coors and Constellation-owned beer brands such as Modelo, said he felt that Bud Light’s marketing has failed to inspire.

“They clearly don’t have a big idea and it shows,” Stock said. “The NFL montage work that’s out now features Bud Light in a very deliberate role as a backup to the NFL. It’s a fashion accessory rather than the driver of sociability. No news. No charm. No reason to re-engage with Bud Light. It’s wallpaper.”

“Running that work with $1 billion in media won’t do a thing,” he continued. “The catastrophic failure on the business causing this rapid descent won’t get fixed with uninspired montage work that’s straight out of 1999.”

Bud Light declined to share its plans for the Super Bowl, the most expensive ad buy of the year and one where the AB InBev brand has had a consistent presence for years.

Time and patience

David Carter, principal of the Sports Business Group and adjunct professor of sports business at the University of Southern California, said Bud Light could eventually find its way back, given time, patience and continued marketing support.

“It’s helpful to appreciate that time can heal most marketing wounds provided they are not compounded,” Carter said. “Over time, consistently and unambiguously redoubling authentic efforts toward core consumers should help. But, again, it will take time and considerable patience given the nature of the controversy and the substitutability of the product. To redirect marketing spend away from a flagship brand will be seen as a marketing surrender of sorts, further opening up opportunities—and shelf space—to competitors, potentially cementing a permanent decline.”

Benj Steinman, president of industry publication Beer Marketer’s Insights, said the Bud Light situation is “unprecedented” in the industry. As such, he was making no predictions as to what the newly launched NFL or college marketing programs can or cannot do for the brand.

“Bud Light’s summer marketing blitz had little effect on the trends, which continue down by 20% to 30% week in and week out, depending on which data set, Circana or Nielsen,” Steinman said. “The trends are very stubborn, slightly improving in some areas, but not much overall. The trends have stayed in that range for several months.”

More news: See Bud Light’s summer ad campaign


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