Budweiser came out with two quite different ads for they Superbowl this year. The first here, continuing the narrative of their 'best buds' (sorry #BestBuds) narrative. This is obviously pulling at the emotional heart strings of the audience, and has proved to be a very effective campaign for them. BrandRepublic lays out the stats:
The film received 47 million earned views in the run-up to and during last night’s Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks from people specifically searching for the ad via YouTube or other channels.
This was 22 times more views than the film’s nearest rival.
It also received 2.3 million social interactions, such as Facebook or YouTube "likes", seven times the number of its nearest competitor, according to analytics firm iSpot.TV.
Interestingly they had another ad for the SuperBowl, this is clearly the more overtly male and product focused of the two. This is worth exploring, as a separate point, the reasons behind why they ran two campaigns in parallel. They are obviously doing different things, it's just interesting to see a brand have two very different ads running at the same time like this.
Programmatic? (To communicate to a massive audience in more relevant ways?)
Male vs Female Audiences?
Emotion vs Product?
Content vs Ad?
The angle of just catering to different audiences, especially when the existing audience is so great, makes sense to me. (I called this Programmatic, but still getting my head around that!) From my perspective there's no issue either. Both ads are well made and doing their job unashamedly, so it doesn't feel too try-hard or unauthentic. Budweiser has people who drink their product who just like to chill out after work, and not worry about the way it was made. They also have customers who like puppies and horses and emotional storytelling.
Coming back to the "Brewed the Hard Way" ad, it initially shook me, in a good way. It struck how well targeted it is. It's always hard taking a jab at a competitor, even more so when you are the monolithic industry leader in terms of sales. To look down on the underdog is risky business. But I think Budweiser and its agency (Anomaly) created and executed this ad with laser precision. They've gone with the angle of accepting the 'truth turd' and telling an authentic story of what it means to drink a Bud, and in the process are celebrating their current audience. They also simply state what's in the product, no nonsense. Just facts.
They're making their customers feel good to drink a Bud. There's an almost playful diss at the craft breweries, it's definitely not malicious - which is key. The music also adds an element of knowing and playfulness to what they're saying. The use of historic imagery also reinforces the 'brand love' to the consumers. (It's a shame they didn't de-interlace some of the stock footage though!)
As you can imagine, some blowhards complained about the ad and Budweiser released an official statement about the ad.
Brian Perkins, vice president, Budweiser
“Brewed the Hard Way” is Budweiser’s way of celebrating being a MACRO brew: a beer enjoyed by many. The prevailing discourse in beer is that small must be good, and big must be bad. We don’t accept that. Lager is one of the most difficult styles to brew well, and we have the highest standards of care to get it right. We are owning who we are without apology.
We’re delighted to have sparked a conversation around beer. Talking with beer drinkers since Sunday, we know the overwhelming majority are really enjoying seeing Budweiser speak up with conviction. This Bud’s for them.
A good response, which falls completely in line with the tone of the ad and what it is communicating.
I'm a little torn from a consumer perspective as I don't like Budweiser, it tastes like lemonade. I do now tend to love what could be classed as craft beers. My current favourite is a crazy strong IPA from Brewdog called Jackhammer. It's got such a gorgeous flavour, but's it's very strong at 7.2%. In the Brewdog bars I also love they way they describe the beer, and how they serve it in beautiful 1/3 pint glasses.
They've created an experience around the product - which all great brands do with their products. In some way Budweiser is trying to do with this ad.
This all reminds me of one of Don Draper's infamous pitches in Mad Men, this one to Lucky Strike where he reminds them that all six tobacco companies are all selling the same product and need a way to differentiate themselves. Don simply picks up on one of the processes the tobacco goes through to become a cigarette and exploits it as a way to celebrate the product for what it is, and in turn make people feel good about it.
"Advertising is based on one thing. Happiness. Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever it is that you're doing, it's ok. You are ok."
This ad from Budweiser is doing exactly that.
If you're drinking Budweiser you're doing ok.
You are ok.