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Episode Four: St. Louis Cardinals
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Bud Light has scripted its Super Bowl strategy, and the message will be on -- not in -- the bottle.
The nation's largest beer brand will use advertising's biggest stage to promote new packaging hitting stores soon that will eventually feature more than 100 different messages scrolled on Bud Light bottles. The bottles will keep the existing Bud Light logo and colors, but each one will include a phrase that plugs the brand as the "perfect beer" for various exploits. For instance, one bottle will describe Bud Light as "the perfect beer for forming a one-person conga line," while another will declare the brew as "the perfect beer for when you're eating breakfast meats outside of breakfast hours."
"These 'Up for Whatever' messages on Bud Light bottles are going to play a key role in practically everything we do in 2015," said Alex Lambrecht, Bud Light brand VP. "They'll be strongly connected to our Super Bowl program -- the Bud Light House of Whatever -- as well as the programs that come after that. With the launch of these bottles, we're just getting started." The House of Whatever, located in a hotel in Phoenix, will host concerts and parties during Super Bowl week.
The bottle changes come nearly one year after Bud Light launched its "Perfect Beer For Whatever Happens" campaign that debuted during the 2014 Super Bowl. The campaign, whose lead creative agency is BBDO, leans heavily on experiential elements. The bottle effort will be no different.
For instance, the brewer plans to sell custom bottles at festivals and sporting events that will guide drinkers to participate in random events. In one example shared by the brewer with Ad Age, a bottle sold at a concert might indicate that Bud Light is "the perfect beer for getting back stage." The bottle would also include specific instructions guiding the drinker to meet a specific security guard who would then take the person backstage.
Beverage marketers are increasingly using differentiated packaging -- often with varying images or messages -- in an attempt to satiate consumer demand for variety and customization.
For instance, Coca-Cola this year in the U.S. enjoyed a sales boost from its limited-edition "Share a Coke" campaign that put random first names on Coke labels. The marketer, which first launched "Share a Coke" in Australia in 2011, in the U.S. used the "250 most popular first names among American teens and Millennials," according to a company description. Coca-Cola credits the program for lifting sales. A spokeswoman said in an email that Coke in July "had the top four weeks of 20oz sales volume that we have recorded in Nielsen going back to 2009."
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While Coke's play seemingly seized on vanity -- people seeking bottles with their own name or a friend's name -- Bud Light 's effort is more about spontaneity. Each bottle inside a 12-pack will have a different message, but drinkers will have to buy and open the pack to read them.
The large-scale packaging experiments come as big brands seek to keep the attention of millennial consumers who are increasingly buying smaller, upstart brands, such as craft brews.
"While the big brands are still big, the little guys are cooler and hipper," said Carol Philips, president of Brand Amplitude, a brand strategy consulting firm with an expertise on Millennials. "So if you are a big brand, you've got to do the things that only big brands can do. A little brand can't do this," she added, referring to Bud Light's bottle campaign. She said Bud Light "can't be a craft beer. So what can they do? They can leverage their scale to bring some experiences that you can't get from a craft beer."