When it comes to sports sponsorships, simple signage no longer cuts it, especially for big brands that don't really need the awareness boost. These days, it's all about giving fans something useful or unique. Starting Thursday, Bud Light is hoping to fill that bill with beer glasses that light up after touchdowns.
The nation's largest beer brand will distribute the so-called Bud Light Touchdown Glass to fans at the NFL season opener between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. The bases of the glasses are designed to light up blue after every Patriots scoring play, as well as when the team unveils its Super Bowl LI banner. The lights are controlled using in-stadium radio frequency technology.
Bud Light is also offering glasses featuring the Patriots and several other teams for sale online. They can be connected to a special mobile app that causes the glasses to illuminate whenever the team scores a touchdown. But only six teams are featured beyond the Pats: the 49ers, Broncos, Colts, Giants, Jets and Raiders. (There's also one generic NFL-themed glass.) "We wanted to test it with a few team partners to understand consumer experience and fan demand. Our hope is we can expand the program going forward for future seasons and incorporate with all our team partners," Anna Rogers, director of NFL marketing for Bud Light, said in a statement to Ad Age.
The glasses were made by BuzzConnect, which describes itself as a maker of "live sports celebration products." Sports intelligence provider Stats LLC handled the data behind the program.
"We are always trying to find new innovations to engage consumers through our sponsorships and the 'Touchdown Glass' is a great example of how we're using the NFL to engage fans in a unique ways outside of traditional stadium signage," Andy Goeler, Bud Light's VP-Marketing said in a statement. "Innovations like this coupled with in-stadium assets along with our TV and digital inventory ensure that we're engaging NFL fans wherever they are."
The gimmick is reminiscent of the "Budweiser Red Lights" program the brewer has run in Canada in which consumers can buy WiFi-connected red lights for their home that illuminate every time a fan's favorite hockey team scores. Earlier this year in the U.S., Budweiser distributed "Red Light Cups" at a Washington Capitals NHL game that lit up when the team scored.
Eelco van der Noll, Anheuser-Busch InBev VP for experiential marketing, summed up the brewer's evolving approach on sponsorships a couple years ago at a conference in Chicago hosted by sponsorship consultancy IEG. "It's not about signage—it's about the experience we can offer inside the stadium, outside the stadium, in living rooms and at retail," he said, according to IEG's blog. "We want to create experiences in which beer drinkers become our media outlets. If you have a good time consuming our products and experiences, you share it."
Of course, Bud Light is still deploying traditional methods, like TV ads. The brewer this week released its first NFL-themed spot of the season featuring a beer vendor. It was handled by Wieden & Kennedy.