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Budweiser says Super Bowl digital strategy as important as ad buy

Anheuser-Busch, maker of the Budweiser and Bud Light beer brands, is stepping up its social outreach for Super Bowl XLIX, including an Instagram fan-video contest, to win over a new, younger generation of drinkers.

Although the St. Louis brewer?s brands have been prominent for years in TV commercials shown during the winter football classic, it is putting resources into engaging millennials on social before, during and after the big game. Before a vast global audience, it is a way for Anheuser-Busch to get its star brands into the hands of the 18-to-34 age group, which collectively is expected to spend more than $200 billion annually, starting in 2017.

?It?s not a commercial anymore, it?s a campaign and a strong digital plan is just as important as the Super Bowl ad-buy itself,? said Nick Kelly, an Anheuser-Busch spokesman. ?Our pre-Super Bowl commercial release strategy has become extremely valuable for gaining momentum heading into Sunday. 

?This year we?ll also have four social media war rooms around the country engaging with consumers before, during and after the game,? he said, declining to disclose details.

Big ad buyer
Anheuser-Busch traditionally has been among the largest buyers of commercial advertising time on the Super Bowl broadcast, which is watched annually by more than 100 million viewers. 

Although the commercials are a widely-anticipated part of the show, millennials? penchant for multitasking while consuming media has given the beer maker an incentive to begin leveraging more ephemeral social communication platforms.

Reaching younger drinkers through Instagram.

?These platforms, such as Snapchat, are expanding to make connections between physical events and virtual audiences, similar to their newly launched ?our story? feature that allows brands to closely align with events through the eyes of the consumers,? said Tom Edwards, senior vice president for strategy and innovation, digital, with the Marketing Arm, Dallas.  

?The omnichannel approach of Budweiser will manifest itself across all consumer touch points. The key is to ensure consistency of the message through non-linear connections with the consumer,? he said. ?Mobile will play a key role of connecting digital to physical, and social conversation that extends from connecting traditional media to social will play a key role.?

In the Instagram video contest, Bud Light fans are asked to live the "Up For Whatever" messages found on new Bud Light bottles and join the brewer at the Bud Light House of Whatever at Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1. 

Consumers can enter for a chance through three steps on Instagram. First, they live the #UpForWhatever message found on Bud Light bottles. Next, they upload their video to Instagram. In the final step, they tag @budlight and add #UpForWhatever. 

In a related move, Anheuser-Busch launched the Bud Light Button, a beer delivery app that lets users order Bud Light with a tap of the finger. 

In the AKQA-developed app, users scan their credit card for repeat purchase. The app then tracks the user?s current location. Consumers can order between one to 100 cases of beer and get it delivered in under an hour by Klink, an alcohol delivery app that uses independent retailers to fulfill deliveries.

Bud Light Button users may receive an extra ?Up For Whatever? experience with their delivery, designed to inspire spontaneous fun, such as Bud Light-branded gear.

The Super Bowl annually ranks as TV?s biggest event, and advertising during the game is the most expensive. Last year?s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos drew 112.2 million viewers, making it the most-watched event in television history, according to Nielsen.

Commercial time for Super Bowl XLIX, to be broadcast by NBC on Feb. 1, costs a record $4.5 million per 30-second spot ? or $150,000 a second, The New York Times reported. That is up 12.5 percent from the $4 million for last year?s game on Fox and up 88 percent from $2.4 million a decade ago, according to Kantar Media, a WPP-owned research firm.

Generating buzz
There is no other single event that brings marketers as many eyeballs or as much potential buzz.

Reaching drinkers before, during and after the big game.

?Anheuser-Busch?s goal is to be the No. 1 CPG in digital,? Mr. Kelly said. ?And in order to achieve this goal we must continue to innovate in the digital space.? 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.