When Anheuser-Busch InBev launched its margarita-inspired Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita flavored malt beverage in April 2012, it was supposed to be a summertime limited edition ending by Labor Day. But the line extension survived and has grown to the point where the brewer has made it a major priority with new flavors and an accelerating marketing budget.
Measured media spending on the Ritas franchise jumped from $2.7 million in 2012 to $11.8 million last year, according to Kantar Media. This year, spending will grow "significantly," said Tyler Simpson, director of marketing for Bud Light extensions. He declined to reveal the budget but said, "we are stepping up our investment in the Ritas," which he called a "big bet for Anheuser-Busch."
Much of the new spending is supporting a campaign that launched this week called "Fiesta Forever." The campaign is by BBDO, which handles Bud Light out of its New York and Chicago offices.
A TV ad (above), features a man handing out Ritas at offices, pools and in living rooms, while speaking and singing the 1980s pop hit "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie. (Mr. Richie's aging song library is apparently generating new interest from marketers: Taco Bell used a cover of his "Hello" song in an ad that debuted last year.)
At the same time, Bud Light keeps churning out new flavors of the Ritas, which are designed to be poured over ice and steal market share from liquor brands.
This fall, the brand will add Apple-Ahhh-Rita as a limited edition to the core lineup, which includes Lime-A-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Mango-O-Rita and Raz-Ber-Rita.