The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.
When the nation's largest beer brand changes its ad campaign, it's a big deal -- especially when the brand is in need of a comeback. So it's not surprising that the first spot from Bud Light's new "Famous Among Friends" campaign is already generating a range of reactions. Beer Business Daily Editor Harry Schuhmacher -- who is not afraid to call it as he sees it -- gushed on Monday to his readers that "it's the best work out of Bud Light since Bob Lachky handed over the reins of the Clydesdales," referring to the highly respected former chief creative officer who left the brewer in 2009. On Tuesday he followed up with anonymous feedback from a reader (the publication caters to beer wholesalers) who praised the ad for "calling itself out for being a sappy … bromance which is exactly the narrative we could all use these divisive days."
One beer distributor told Ad Age that the campaign "is much better than the last two campaigns, which were terrible," referring to last year's politically themed "Bud Light Party" effort and 2014/2015's "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens" effort. But the distributor added: "I believe it has potential but am concerned it is generic. I'm not sure a brand can own friendship any more than it can own refreshment. I'm looking forward to seeing the spot they will show on the Super Bowl. I'm hopeful it will be indicative of a campaign that can build brand image and sell boxes."
MillerCoors, meanwhile, seized on the similarities it says the new Bud Light ad shares with their old "Miller Time" campaign for Miller Lite, which debuted in 2012 with the resurrected classic tagline. Ads tried to portray Lite as the beer good friends drink when they get together. This old Lite ad below shares some of the same traits as the new Bud Light spot. (MillerCoors has since moved on to a new campaign that plays up Lite's liquid and heritage credentials.)
In a statement to Ad Age, MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer David Kroll said: "In 2012, we unsuccessfully aired similar work for Miller Lite called 'Brewed for Brotherhood' that failed on many levels. Our campaign said nothing about the beer, it dramatized cliché beer 'bro' bonding and drinkers found the spots confusing as the execution was dependent on audio for storytelling. It's work we've moved away from for good reason: We are excited to build purpose-led brands and let drinkers know more about the quality of our beer. While it's tough to predict the success of a campaign on one execution, we have been down this road before and would be surprised if the results were different."
Anheuser-Busch InBev declined to respond. Mr. Kroll's comments reflect a newly aggressive approach MillerCoors is taking against its rival, including criticizing Bud Light in advertising.
Now, onto some less confrontational tidbits -- like free stuff from the world's largest fast food marketer…