Posts Tagged ‘Bud Light’

Risqué Bud Light Lime Ad Too Risky

February 7th, 2010

I have mixed emotions about Bud Light Lime’s internet-only a “in the can” commercial. Privately telling an off-color joke to a friend is one thing, but publicly making implicit references to anal sex, even if it’s “just” on the internet, is something else. From a business standpoint, it’s both risqué and risky. Moreover, the spot repeats the same play on words ten times; however funny it is the first one or two times, it’s not nearly as funny the ninth or tenth time.

The reason I have mixed emotions is that four friends found it interesting enough to forward to me, and I suspect that there are many people–probably millions– who will find the ad to be quite entertaining. So the question is, do the positive points Bud Light Lime scores with people who like the ad outweigh the points they lose among people who find it offensive?

I often tell my clients that their ads and other communications efforts don’t need to appeal to everyone, and that communications designed to not turn anyone off usually also fail to turn anyone on. Often the answer to “Do we dare do this?” comes down to two things: how deeply are certain people likely to be offended, and are a lot of those people likely to be in the target audience? On the first point, I suspect that those who dislike the Bud Light Lime ad will really dislike it; on the second point, I would argue that Bud Light Lime’s target audience is broad enough that it will contain a lot of those people.

A true niche product that’s cultivating a maverick, rebel image has little to lose–and maybe even much to gain–by offending those who aren’t in its tiny target audience. But Bud Light Lime is targeting a mainstream crowd, many of whom I think will find this ad to be offensive. And keep in mind that this has implications not only for the brand equity of Bud Light lime, but of every brand in the Budweiser portfolio.

So while I’ll give Anheuser Busch owner InBev credit for taking a risk in this increasingly risk-averse world of ours, I don’t think it was a smart risk. In other words, I think this ad should have been canned.

What do you think?

Drinkability: Just Wrong

December 22nd, 2009

I must be getting lazy, as I’m picking on Bud Light for a second straight day. But if Anheuser Busch is going to continue to air Bud Light’s ineffectual “Drinkability” campaign, they must be lazier than I am.

Have you heard anyone talk about this campaign? As with Bud Light’s “Tailgate-Tested” campaign, “Drinkability” seems to have zero word-of-mouth buzz. Speaking of which, have you ever heard a beer drinker use the term “drinkability”? Let’s face it; this term was coined by Bud Light’s ad agency as a euphemism for “utter lack of flavor.”

The latest execution from this campaign shows a young couple about to leave home for a formal event. First the wife attempts to pin a boutonnière on her husband’s lapel, but it doesn’t take. (Super on screen: “Too light.”) Then she attaches the boutonnière with six or seven shots from a staple gun. (Super on screen: “Too heavy.”) We’re then told–rather randomly and illogically–about Bud Light’s “drinkability.” (Super on screen: “Just right.”)

Not only is none of this particularly funny, the staple gun scene comes across as downright sadistic. To make matters worse, the husband has a wispy mustache and sideburns that are straight out of a 1970s porn flick.

There’s a word that comes to mind when I think of the Anheuser Busch execs who let their ad agency convince them that this stuff would make for effective advertising: “Gullibility.”

Bud Light and Miller Lite: Advertising Lightweights?

August 15th, 2009

When you have a commodity product that tries to appeal to virtually everyone, it’s hard to create compelling advertising.  Exhibits A and B: the latest Bud Light and Miller Lite ads, which make about as much of an impression on the brain as their beers do on the palate. 

Both of these beers’ nondescript, low-flavor profiles are designed not to generate raving fans, but to avoid turning anyone off. Unfortunately, when you avoid the risk of turning anyone off, you also default the opportunity to turn anyone on.

While their new ad campaigns aren’t impressive, at least it’s some consolation that the two brands are taking two different approaches.  For several months now, Bud Light has been trying impress us with the beer’s “drinkability,” a euphemism for “goes down–and tastes pretty much like–water.” Unfortunately, the ads suffer from two fatal problems. First, unlike prior Bud Light campaigns, the ads aren’t particularly entertaining. Second, and more important, the fact that the product is drinkable is not exactly a revelation or, for that matter, even interesting. I mean, are there really any beer drinkers out there complaining that light beers have too darned much flavor and don’t go down easily enough?

Miller Lite, on the other hand, has suddenly decided to reveal that their beer is “triple hops brewed,” and always has been. Huh? Perhaps this is supposed to make viewers think, “Gee, I guess Miller Lite has much more flavor than was apparent to my taste buds.  Silly me!” A new light beer that truly has more flavor than the current offerings might be news, but an old, traditional light beer suddenly talking about its brewing process is boring at best and weird at worst.

In my view, the smartest advertiser among the major light beer brands is Coors Light, which has consistently positioned itself as the most refreshing light beer and the one that tastes best ice cold. Its story goes well beyond “drinkability”, and the brand’s mountain heritage adds credibility to the “ice cold” angle. Moreover, when I see a Coors Light ad, it makes me want one–especially when it’s hot outside. On the other hand, when I see a recent Bud Light or Miller Lite ad, it makes me want to change the channel. (As I’ve blogged previously, while past Bud Light campaigns were very humorous, I’ve never felt that they were effective at giving viewers a reason to buy the product. True, it’s by far the number one-selling light beer, but I attribute this to the combined power of a huge media budget and the Anheuser-Busch distribution system rather than the quality of its advertising.)

To be clear, I’m not saying that Coors Light tastes signifcantly better than Bud Light or Miller Lite. However, if I’m going to have a light beer, I’m looking for refreshment more than flavor, and Coors Light strikes me as being just a little more refreshing than the other two brands. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Coors Light’s sales trend has been far more positive than its competitors’ for the past several years.

In defense of the Bud Light and Miller Lite ad agencies, boring products don’t easily lend themselves to provocative advertising. Still, Coors Light’s agency has not let this handicap get in its way, which is why I consider it to be the heavyweight of light beer advertisers.

Short These Stocks

February 2nd, 2009

I’ve long had a theory that you could make a lot of money by shorting the stocks of companies that have really bad advertising–especially companies that run really bad advertising on the Super Bowl. My feeling is that if they’re making stupid decisions about something as important as how they present themselves to their potential customers, they’re probably making a lot of other stupid decisions, and sooner or later those decisions will negatively affect their financial performance and their stock price.

It takes a pretty effective commercial to generate enough incremental sales (and incremental gross profit) to justify spending $3 million or more on a 30-second exposure.  Of course, many will argue that an advertiser can reap other benefits from Super Bowl exposure–such as increased brand awareness and perhaps an improved brand image.
But Super Bowl ads are a huge crapshoot.  First of all, a high percentage of the viewers are drinking alcoholic beverages at loud parties that make it hard to hear most of the commercials.  Second, expectations are high from an entertainment standpoint, and if your commercial falls short of the bar, the criticism from both viewers and the media can be brutal.  And, perhaps most important, the premium placed on entertainment often means that the ads forget to communicate why the viewer should purchase the product being advertised. To me, the best (or worst) example of this over the years has been the Bud Light ads, which are usually hysterical but never give you a conscious (or even subconscious) reason to buy Bud Light over any other beer brand.  Sure, Bud Light is the number one light beer, but I suspect that’s driven by the superior quantity–rather than quality–of their advertising.
So what companies should you short based on yesterday’s ads?  My #1 choice would be Teleflora, for a tasteless ad that generated groans from the people I was with and focused on taking a shot at its competition rather than telling us why we should become a customer of Teleflora.  My #2 choice would be Cash4Gold, a sad ad that tried to be clever but missed by a mile. Given the nature of their business and the state of our economy, the company may succeed, but it won’t be because of their advertising.