Bud Light retires ‘Dilly Dilly’ and the Bud Knight ahead of new seltzer campaign

The AB InBev-owned brand is axing its medieval world as it looks to expand its product line with a new hard seltzer

Published On
Jan 10, 2020

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More than two years after Bud Light brought the made-up phrase “Dilly Dilly!” to the forefront of public consciousness, the AB InBev-owned brewer is bringing the curtain down on its multi-purpose medieval realm, the brand’s VP told Ad Age.

The Renaissance-era campaign, originally conceived by Wieden & Kennedy, “has done great things for the brand,” says Bud Light VP Andy Goeler, “but it’s just time to move on.”

The revelation comes as AB InBev prepares to launch a pricey campaign for Bud Light Seltzer, a new spiked seltzer label slated to hit shelves next week.

Set in the small town of Seltzer, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, the humorous campaign, also from Wieden & Kennedy, will embody the brand’s “fun personality,” says Goeler.

It will focus on various townsfolk (played by actors) endorsing the product while manning phones at a call center to answer questions about the product. Most of the ads wrap by inviting viewers to call 1-833-BL-SELTZ, which will patch them through to an interactive hotline.

A central purpose of the brand’s new campaign will be to court both those who do and do not drink Bud Light, evidenced by the ad’s tagline, “If you love Bud Light, you’ll love Bud Light Seltzer. If you don’t love Bud Light, you’ll love Bud Light Seltzer," which was rolled out last week with a 15-second ad.

“We feel we have a superior product,” Goeler says, acknowledging what may be an uphill climb for Bud Light as it enters the already hot alcoholic seltzer market, which is dominated by White Claw, owned by Mark Anthony Brands, and Boston Beer’s Truly. 

“In addition to taste, the other objective is really to bring some new drinkers into the Bud Light franchise,” he adds. “People that may not be beer drinkers will have an opportunity to enjoy some seltzer from Bud Light. That’s a big opportunity for us.”

An ad called “The Message” will debut this weekend during the National Football League’s divisional wildcard playoffs.

Bud Light Seltzer is scheduled to be released nationwide on Monday, though residents of real-world Seltzer (population 307) got a sneak peek of the beverage at a product launch party last month.

The Bud Light-branded beverage will come in four fruity flavors: Strawberry, Mango, Lemon Lime and Black Cherry—none of which, the brand emphasizes in its new campaign, are made with beer.

Bud Light Seltzer and original Bud Light will be sharing a 60-second commercial during next month’s Super Bowl as part of InBev's four-ad lineup in the game that will also include spots for Budweiser and Michelob Ultra. 

Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 will mark the first time since 2017 that Bud Light isn’t centering its Big Game appearance around its heavy-rotation medieval realm, which the brand has leaned on since airing its now-famous “Banquet” ad in August 2017.

In Super Bowl LIII, the brand aired four controversial spots (one per quarter) featuring serfs and lords jabbing at MillerCoors over the use of corn syrup in its brewing processes; the previous year, its two ads featured an epic medieval battle and introduced the heroic and reoccurring Bud Knight to the world.

No creative details about Super Bowl LIV's joint Bud Light-Bud Light Seltzer spot have been released yet.

Goeler says regular Bud Light's marketing is “evolving,” with the brand currently working on a new campaign that will be “released shortly.”

“It will be in the Bud Light tone, and it will be fun, I can guarantee you that,” he adds, without providing further details.

While the medieval ads put Bud Light into the pop culture conversation, they failed to lift the brew from a long-term sales decline.