Bud Light’s heavyweight brand experiences

Bud Light’s brand experiences

As the UK festival season kicks off, he takes a look at how superbrand Bud Light has become the toast of the after party circuit.

Beer giant Bud Light has built up a strong reputation for its outsized experiential activations.

Aimed at young and predominantly male drinkers, the brand’s signature activation is the Bud Light Hotel, a luxury pop-up that sees an existing venue completely transformed to coincide with major fixtures in the American football calendar.

Hotels across the US have received a beery makeover with everything from the concierge to shampoo and bedding rebranded with the Bud Light logo or coloured in its characteristic shades of blue.

A room at the Bud Light Hotel is restricted to VIPs. To win a chance to party with ‘Friends Of Bud Light’ consumers are invited to enter a series of competitions using bespoke apps and social media. These activations have proved so popular with the brand’s core audience of millennial consumers that checking into a Bud Light Hotel has become a highly sought after status-making event in its own right.

The Bud Light Hotel has been a hot ticket at the US Superbowl celebrations for the past five years. For the 2014 tournament the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, came up with an activation that dwarfed even its giant predecessors. Instead of taking over a hotel, Bud Light took to the water, converting a 324 metre cruise ship on New York’s Hudson River into a floating entertainment centre.

Beer fans could win a berth on the party boat by scanning a pack of Bud Light to unlock hidden features in a specially designed Bud Light app. As well as 1,900 branded cabins, winners were able to avail themselves of a two floor party lounge, 45 branded bars and an open air stage hosting performances by Foo Fighters and Run DMC. How’s that for brand amplification?

In 2013 Bud Light extended its brand offering to concerts when it launched the Music First campaign. Partnering with Myspace and promoter Live Nation, the brand pulled off an extraordinary experiential coup. The Bud Light 50/50/1 festival saw 50 invite-only concerts staged in 50 states during a single day. The gigs, which included performances by Kendrick Lamar, Ludacris and Flaming Lips reached a total audience of 52,000 drinkers. Like the Bud Light Hotel activations, they also had a significant digital component including an online hub, artist interviews, original mixes and exclusive live streams. 

The Bud Light 50/50/1 Festival attracted 1.5 million unique viewers and well as 240,000 downloads of the Bud Light app and 525,000 Twitter and Facebook shares. 
Partnering with a host event to reach niche consumers is a tried and tested way of building brand/customer relationships. Few brands have the ambition – or the budget – to create their own headline event. Bud Light should be commended for the hugely successful way in which they have tapped into the mindset of beer loving sport and music fans. By repeatedly finding fun and memorable ways to mirror the passions and concerns of its customers, Bud Light has won a place in their hearts as well as their fridges. 

Joss Davidge is managing partner of brand experience agency BEcause, an award winning brand experience agency which has been helping brands get talked about for over 20 years. 



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