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Bud Light's Big TV Play: 'Walking Dead' and 'Super Bowl'

By Published on .

Here's more evidence that big TV events still matter to big brands: Bud Light is seizing on the season premiere of "The Walking Dead" on AMC and Sunday's NBC rematch between last season's Super Bowl teams, the Patriots and Falcons. The plotlines for the two ads play off the programming.

The spot debuting on AMC spoofs the program by showing a group of friends looking for cover from the zombie apocalypse. Their greatest fear is running out of Bud Light. The football-themed ad, meanwhile, is a colonial-themed dramatization of a man returning from a beer run at the Patriots' Gillette Stadium. Both spots are by Wieden & KennedyNew York and continue the brew's "Famous Among Friends" theme. They follow a "Game of Thrones"-inspired spot that debuted in August ahead of the season finale of the HBO show.

Bud Light, which is an NFL sponsor, has long weaved football storylines into its ads. But the concentrated effort to play off popular TV shows is a newer approach. The ads are "designed to be culturally connected and relevant contextually to what's going on," says Bud Light VP Andy Goeler. The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brand also seeds content in digital to push the themes.

The "Game of Thrones" ad includes the made-up phrase "Dilly, Dilly," a medieval version of "cheers" that AB InBev marketers hope catches on like the brewer's classic ad catchphrases such as "I Love You Man" and "Whassup." The "Dilly, Dilly" phrase has been mentioned 19,781 times on social media since the ad debuted in late August, according to AB InBev's tracking.

The buzz has yet to translate into any significant sales gains, however. Bud Light fell 5.7% in the nine months ending Sept. 30, although it improved slightly, to down 5.4 percent, in the final four weeks of that period, according to Nielsen figures cited recently by Beer Marketer's Insights.

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