The first marketing for Bud Light Seltzer is more rural than medieval. The debut ad for the new line extension is set in tiny Seltzer, Pennsylvania, not the “Dilly Dilly” kingdom that has served as the backdrop for Bud Light’s campaigns since 2017.
The 15-second spot by Wieden & Kennedy shows an actor playing the mayor of the tiny town preparing for what is described as an “important message.” The spot will run during the National Football League wildcard playoff games this weekend. It kicks off what is expected to be an expensive campaign for the seltzer, which hits shelves on Jan. 13. Anheuser-Busch InBev has not confirmed its Super Bowl ad line-up, but it seems certain that the seltzer will be included.
Seltzer, Pennsylvania, is located about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia and has a population of about 300. Bud Light first began linking its seltzer with Seltzer in December when it delivered the first shipment to the town.
The brewer has a lot of catching up to do in the seltzer category, which is dominated by White Claw, owned by Mark Anthony Brands, and Boston Beer’s Truly. Those brands have excelled as standalone entries not attached to larger brands. With its new seltzer, AB InBev is trying to ride the coattails of Bud Light. But the move amounts to a bit of a gamble since Bud Light, the largest beer brand in the business, has been in a steady sales decline for years.
An AB InBev spokesman did not provide further details on the new seltzer campaign, beyond describing the first ad as a “teaser.” But the ad copy sheds some light on the strategy, particularly these lines—“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 quite obviously suggests that the brewer will attempt to lure both Bud Light loyalists and those who don’t drink it.
The Bud Light spokesman declined to comment on the fate of the larger “Dilly Dilly” campaign and if it will be continued for regular Bud Light. Those ads, conceived by W&K, have generated considerable media attention, but haven’t done much to reverse the brand’s sales decline.