Bud Light picks 2 new creative agencies as marketing strategy shifts

James G. Cole

Dive Brief:

  • Bud Light has selected Anomaly as creative agency for its core Bud Light Blue business and The Martin Agency to handle its extended family of brands, including hard seltzer, according to details shared in an email with Marketing Dive.   
  • The Anheuser-Busch InBev label first put its account under review in June after working with Wieden + Kennedy since 2015. Wieden + Kennedy, which is independent, declined to participate in the process but still works with other brands under the AB InBev umbrella, including Michelob Ultra.
  • Bud Light’s agency change comes as the light beer celebrates its 40th anniversary and follows a re-upping of a longstanding partnership with the NFL. Bud Light also continues to invest in more nascent media like esports that could require different creative thinking. 

Dive Insight:

Big creative changes are underway at Bud Light as the marketer adjusts to shifting consumer tastes and an altered media landscape. The AB InBev brand’s search for a new agency has been closely watched since the review kicked off earlier this summer, with incumbent Wieden + Kennedy forgoing a bid to retain the business. 

A shakeup arrives as Bud Light celebrates a milestone anniversary and looks to firm up a stake in emergent channels, such as gaming and esports. AB InBev has also made moves that could impact Bud Light’s marketing strategy. In June, the brewing giant relinquished alcohol advertising exclusivity around the Super Bowl, a position it held for over three decades. The marketer will continue to run commercials around the big game and remains the official beer and hard seltzer sponsor of the NFL.

Rather than pick one partner to steer the vision of its entire portfolio, Bud Light is splitting duties between its main light beer and broader line of products. Anomaly is owned by Stagwell while The Martin Agency is part of Interpublic Group of Companies. The dual agency approach speaks to the growing prominence of non-beer offerings, and also suggests those bets might benefit from their own specialized strategy. Bud Light Seltzer stands as the No. 3 seltzer in the industry.

AB InBev has put a bigger focus on its Beyond Beer initiative as consumers gravitate toward alternatives such as hard seltzer and ready-to-drink cocktails. The company in April appointed Marcel Marcondes, a key executive at the Beyond Beer unit, as global CMO.

Other areas of strength for AB InBev include better-for-you beers, with Michelob Ultra one of the brewer’s fastest-growing products. Bud Light Next, a zero-carb beer introduced earlier this year with a taste that’s been compared to seltzer, is targeted at consumers in their 20s and positions itself around concepts like the metaverse.

The news marks a changing of the guard for Bud Light. Wieden + Kennedy designed some of the brand’s most iconic campaigns, such as a series of medieval-themed ads centered on the nonsensical phrase “Dilly Dilly.” The tagline took on its own life as a viral meme and eventually featured a “Game of Thrones” tie-up at the peak of the HBO show’s popularity. But clever marketing didn’t do much to offset slumping sales amid a broader decline for the beer category.  

Bud Light is still the top-selling beer in the U.S., commanding a 12.69% share of the category, per IRI data. The brand has continued to work closely with the NFL but also broadened its sports marketing purview. 

In June, it signed as sponsor to boxing promoter Top Rank. Bud Light at the same time has catered to less traditional fanbases like gamers, with a dedicated Twitch channel and the backing of competitive events around titles including “League of Legends,” “Overwatch” and the NBA 2K franchise. 

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/bud-light-creative-agency-strategy-seltzer/630331/

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