Whatever, USA: How Bud Light created its very own branded town

Bud Light branded town in Colorado

 Bud Light’s complete makeover – and takeover - of a town in Colorado caught his eye this week. 

Throughout 2014 Anheuser-Busch InBev has been drumming up chatter about its Up For Whatever campaign, but this month the brand took the campaign to a whole new level by unveiling a new town dubbed Whatever, USA which has got to be one of this year’s biggest and best experiential marketing activations.

More than 150,000 Bud Light aficionados across the USA applied to visit Whatever, USA (formerly Crested Butte) through 10-second webcam submissions. Last minute – well they did pledge to be “up for whatever” -  1000 applicants were selected and consequently descended onto the faux town for the three-day activation.

They were transported to the town in Whatever, USA-branded planes and buses. Even the gates at Denver International Airport were rebranded and the departure monitors listed information and travel updates for Whatever, USA.

In line with Bud Light’s signature blue, Crested Butte’s Historic Elk Avenue was painted blue and all of the street’s areas, stores and restaurants were transformed into experiential marketing activation venues. The event kicked off in style with Whatever USA’s mayor, donned in a bright blue suit, sitting atop a blue horse with Bud Light in hand, leading attendees on a parade, where all the amazing experiential marketing activations were unveiled one by one.

Not forgetting the importance of incorporating digital marketing at live events, Bud Light curated a bespoke app which allowed attendees to keep track of what was going on and to digitally sign up for events. Social media also played a big part in the event, opening up the quirky goings-on to millions of non-attendees around the world. It’s so important for events to be inclusive and get people talking outside the realms of the event gates; Anheuser-Busch obviously recognises this.

And that’s not all. The brand is evidently embracing new tech, as attendees were given RFID bracelets to wear which linked their on-site interactions with their social media profiles, whilst camera crews and high-flying drones captured all the action.

You have to admire the logistical prowess that must have been required for this event. There would have been so many things to consider; taking over a whole town is certainly no mean feat, and this is likely to have taken an age to organise. But it certainly looked like it was worth it; hats off to Anheuser-Busch!

Last week, we rounded up the best experiential marketing activations from alcohol brands over the past year – this from Bud Light will certainly make the cut for the next round up!

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