Bud Light Wins Colorado Town Approval for 'Whatever, USA' Takeover

Crested Butte, Colo., Council Gives the OK After Heated Debate

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The 'Mayor' of 'Whatever, USA,' in New York in August.
The 'Mayor' of 'Whatever, USA,' in New York in August.

Bud Light's town takeover ad stunt has survived, after a little cash infusion.

The Crested Butte, Colo. town council on Thursday evening unanimously approved a special event application that will convert the mountain community into a giant Bud Light-branded party the weekend of Sept. 5-7.

The approval, which was reported by local media including the Denver Post, came despite opposition from some residents who complained about the secrecy of the marketing stunt, which was negotiated behind closed doors by town officials. People also were upset about being inconvenienced by the event, which will rebrand the town as "Whatever, USA" for the weekend. But other residents supported the event, which will use the town as a stage for a national ad shoot.

The approval came after Anheuser-Busch InBev on Thursday upped its donation to the town to $500,000 from $250,000. The extra cash -- which is a tiny fraction of the brewer's marketing budget -- seems a small price to pay to keep alive an event that is the centerpiece of a summer-long national campaign that has included TV ads and plenty of digital and social media hype.

More than 100,000 people applied this summer to be flown to an anonymous town for the weekend, and 1,000 were selected to participate. They will be welcomed by a parade and party in Crested Butte, which will be transformed into "Whatever, USA" with plenty of Bud Light branding. Musical acts and street performers are also scheduled.

"Ever since we were first approached by Bud Light earlier this summer, we've been impressed with the creativity and level of detail they've put into the planning process for Whatever, USA," Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep said in a statement distributed by A-B InBev. "This is going to be an incredible event for our community that will help bring the beauty of Crested Butte to 1,000 new visitors."

"We spent several months planning and preparing with the town and local vendors and can't wait for Whatever, USA's temporary citizens to experience everything Crested Butte has to offer," David Daniels, marketing director for Bud Light, said in a statement. "We can't imagine a better setting for a weekend of unexpected, unparalleled fun."

Agencies on the campaign include BBDO for creative advertising and Mosaic for experiential.

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