It comes as a surprise to no one here in the Adland offices that the Anheuser-Busch "Party" campaign created by Wieden & Kennedy starring Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer failed to resonate with the target market. We called it when the campaign debuted during the Super Bowl 2016. The Equal Pay ad continued the tired old "political party" idea, adding a bit of progressive politics to the mix. In the end the campaign "talked a lot without saying anything meaningful" to paraphrase Kidsleepy.
I keep repeating myself ad nauseam, but insulting your consumers does not increase your market.
The hope was that this campaign would rally the younger potential beer buyers to the brand, and lure them away from the microbreweries and Pabst cans, to stop the continuing decline of sales Bud Light is suffering. However, the brewer reported today that Bud Light sales to retailers fell by "mid-single digits" in the third quarter. The brand lost 0.65 points of market share in the third quarter.
The Bud Light campaign was always intended to end its run in the fall, but as the brewer seeks to turn around the sales they are now concentrating on NFL-themed advertising. They are also counting on Lady Gaga to boost sales, a move that I can tell you right now is as poorly timed as hiring Seth and Amy was. Selecting these celebrities reeks of agency workers blinded by PR who are confusing themselves with the target market. Bud Light is sponsoring Lady Gaga's "dive bar tour," which will include TV ads and live streaming performances on Bud Light's Facebook page.
I remember when Gaga was shopping her song around to anyone who wanted her and when Toyota rejected her, she ended up in a Kia 2013 super bowl ad instead. Three years later, and a new album out that Amazon is already dumping the price of, and agencies still think she's hot? Mistake. Bud Light remain positive and Lisa Weser, senior director of marketing communications in the U.S, said to Adage that the Gaga effort is driving "unheard of engagement levels for the brand," with the "first edition of the dive bar tour was the 4th most viewed show in the U.S. that day, combining all media for that day using Facebook Live as the medium." Call me when that translates to sales.
The Bud Light Party campaign, which sought to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the Nov. 8 election was quite hyped, which makes a fail even more obvious. A distributor told AdAge : "It was a very disappointing campaign. If a campaign sells beer it doesn't matter if we like it or not as long as it works. But our trends are worse and worsening so there is a lot of concern about Bud Light." What was intended as a big humor campaign fell flat, because in 2016 audiences want their politics and their comedy separated.