One of my favorite Super Bowl advertisers over the last several years has been Budweiser. Why do I like Budweiser? It has to do with respect and admiration for their strategic playbook. Budweiser has, for many years, implemented a two-stage offense when it comes to the Super Bowl. First, there are the Bud Light spots designed to entertain the consumer and often show the great lengths consumers will go to for a Bud Light. Many probably can remember the driver willing to pick up hitchhikers sporting axes and chainsaws because they also happen to have Bud Light. However, the second stage of the offense, and the one I have personally admired the most, is that Budweiser has dedicated one spot to remind the user of the equity and the heritage of the Budweiser brand. I refer to these commercials as the “equity spots.”
The Budweiser equity spots over the last three years have been, in my opinion, some of the most enjoyable to watch and clearly communicate, to me, the equity the brand is trying to maintain. Last year it was the Clydesdale seen training in Budweiser’s rendition of the famous Rocky montage. The year before it was the dog who, though not born a Dalmatian, nonetheless managed to get his spots so that he could ride in the fire truck. And, the year before that (yes, these advertisements really have stuck with me), was the young Clydesdale who could not pull the cart out of the barn himself, but received some “unnoticed assistance.”
This year, Budweiser had a widely-discussed change in ownership. While it’s not clear if they will make some reference to this change, reports suggest that they have the same two-stage approach in mind for their advertising. I think this action speaks well of the new owners. While it might be tempting for new ownership to completely revamp one’s advertising and identity, there is also a lot to be said for recognizing a winning formula when one has it.
Now, it might strike many that Budweiser is a safe pick when it comes to choosing a favorite, or even successful, advertiser. Fair enough. However, for me it is not just the fact that they are successful. What I like is that I can understand the strategy driving that success and it shows that advertising isn’t all smoke and mirrors…brands can be strategic in their thinking and this can lead to success for years to come.
– Derek Rucker