In Debate Ad, Tecate Turns Trump's Wall Into a Beer Prop

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Tecate Light has an answer to Donald Trump's wall -- and, yes, it involves beer.

The Mexican import will debut a TV ad during coverage of Monday night's presidential debate that makes light of Mr. Trump's proposal to build a wall along the southern border. In the spot Tecate proposes its own wall -- but it's only three-feet high, which is the perfect height to rest a beer on for a neighborly chat between Mexicans and Americans.

The ad, which is by Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, opens with ominous shots of the U.S.-Mexican border. But the spot then shows beer-drinking dudes from America and Mexico plopping a cooler on the wall, shaking hands and partying. A white guy even hops over the wall onto the other side to grab a Tecate Light out of the cooler. The "Tecate beer wall" is "a wall that brings us together," says a voice-over.

The ad looks like a light-hearted takedown of Mr. Trump's wall proposal, which has been a key plank of his campaign. Tecate-owner Heineken USA seems to be fanning the flames with its media buy: The spot will run on Republican-leaning Fox News during debate coverage, as well as Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo.

Asked if the brew was taking a side, Tecate VP Felix Palau said the brand is not trying to get political. Rather, the debate -- and the border issue -- presents a marketing opportunity for the Mexican brand to inject itself in the conversation, he said. "We are totally neutral," he said. "We don't have any political point-of-view or affiliation. We just want to tell a story where people from two bordering countries are united by beer."

The ad continues Saatchi's "Born Bold" campaign for Tecate Light that debuted in 2015. The campaign has emphasized the brand's black eagle symbol while targeting so-called bi-cultural consumers who identify equally with the U.S. and Mexico.

The debate ad buy -- which also includes Facebook, Twitter and other digital media -- is aimed at reaching the broadest group of consumers possible, rather than scoring political points, Mr. Palau said. "No matter their affiliation, no matter their point-of-view, we will target a very well-balanced and structured group of consumers because … we want to amplify our reach as much as possible," he said.

The debate will air from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. eastern time across C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, as well as cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. The audience is expected to be massive (some experts are projecting 80 million viewers or more). But advertisers must run spots before and after the debate, because the debate itself is commercial-free.

"There was some competition in acquiring the debate inventory. Our team was able to secure units, and given the expected reach and tune-in excitement surrounding the debate, we're thrilled to highlight the creative on a night we know a number of people will be watching," Jennifer Weiss, VP-director for Mediavest/Spark, which is Heineken USA's media agency, said in a statement.

Tecate's ad was shot just outside of the border town of Tecate, Mexico, where the brand was founded in 1943. Tecate crossed the border into the U.S. in 1955, while Tecate Light debuted in the states in 2007. The light brew has mostly been sold in the Sun Belt region. But Heineken USA has been expanding it nationally as sales surge. Tecate Light now ranks as the 11th-largest imported beer, with sales growing 33.5% to $75.4 million in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 4, according to IRI.

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