Starting this week, Budweiser will roll out limited edition ‘America’ labels, temporarily renaming its signature beer. Social media has been buzzing over the campaign since it was announced, and while the conversation has been a bit divisive, is that necessarily a bad thing?
When the campaign was announced, social media almost immediately lit up with people celebrating Budweiser’s patriotic move, calling it a salute to “our nation’s heroes,” and calling other brands to follow suit. Others have balked at the name change, calling it “crass” and pointing out the irony (several times) that Budweiser’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is a Belgium-based company.
Source: YouGov BrandIndex
However people may feel about the messaging, the results cannot be ignored. According to the YouGov BrandIndex, purchase consideration – whether shoppers 21 and older would consider buying Budweiser – increased to 17% from 11% after the campaign was announced. Word of mouth doubled to 14% from 7%.
This isn’t the first time that Budweiser has invoked a sense of patriotism with its branding. In the past, it has used stars and stripes with its packaging, and just last year featured a design that included the Statue of Liberty. And while the ‘America’ design makes sense with upcoming holidays like the Fourth of July, or events like the summer Olympics, it’s hard not to think that Budweiser’s timing might have something to do with the current political climate.
In fact, the rename was so easily politicized given the political climate, that presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, all but claimed responsibility during a phone interview on Fox News. This despite the fact that Budweiser says the messaging had been in development for about a year, according to the company.
So, between the polarizing climate of an election year and Budweiser’s lack of hesitation when it comes to being a little bit confrontational (its critique of craft brewers last year was heavy), it seems the brand has found a way to strengthen the bond with its core group of consumers by pulling detractors into the conversation to keep it going. Call it “tellin’ it like we see it” marketing, and it’s working like a charm.
Because like it or not, consumers who take the time to post on Facebook, blog, or Tweet about how much they despise this campaign are doing precisely what Budweiser intended. They’re keeping Budweiser’s name in social media and spurring Budweiser’s supporters to defend their favorite beer vehemently, perpetuating the debate.
What’s more, it has caused marketing professionals to take to their blogs to try and find some deeper meaning behind Budweiser’s motives. Is Budweiser celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence? Is it supporting Team USA in the summer Olympics? Is it pandering to Trump supporters and provoking his detractors? Or is it just that damn good at leveraging social media to knock a campaign out of the park?
I think we definitely answered that last question.