- Anheuser-Busch is sponsoring a six-episode talk show that viewers can watch for free on mobile streaming video platform Ficto. Aimed people ages 21 and older, "Not a Sports Show" is hosted by actor and comedian Lil Rel Howery, who interviews current and former professional athletes over drinks, per an announcement.
- Set in a relaxed bar atmosphere, "Not a Sports Show" will start with a two-part interview of former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce on March 25, followed by the release of episodes every Thursday through April. Guests include three-time Super Bowl champion Shannon Sharpe, Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White and WNBA player and ESPN host Chiney Ogwumike.
- Production company and creative agency Panay Films developed the idea for "Not a Sports Show," which is being produced in a partnership with Stampede Entertainment. For Anheuser-Busch, the show is an opportunity to be culturally relevant without the "interruption" of ads, per the announcement.
"Not a Sports Show" is a form of native advertising for Anheuser-Busch, whose beer and hard seltzer brands are seamlessly integrated in the conversations without the "interruption" of a typical ad, Spencer Gordon, VP digital at Anheuser-Busch, said in the announcement.
The format gives Anheuser-Busch greater creative control over how its brands are presented, with an emphasis on a relaxed, conversational setting. It also doesn't have to compete with other brands for viewer attention, as it would with ad placements in more traditional talk show programming. Ficto, a free mobile video streaming platform, offers brands show sponsorships, interactive placements, social amplification and other opportunities to reach viewers.
"One of the key pillars of our consumer-centric marketing strategy is to make our brand connections relevant to people, rather than focusing on visibility alone," Marcel Marcondes, CMO of Anheuser-Busch, said in the announcement, noting that AB InBev's brands are "meaningful enough in culture" to be part of content.
With the launch of "Not a Sports Show," Anheuser-Busch aims to reach young adults who tend to consume more streaming video on mobile devices than older viewers do. Sixty-one percent of Gen Z and millennials said they watched more videos on social media apps since the beginning of the pandemic, while 52% said they're using their smartphones to watch more videos on streaming apps and platforms, a survey by Snapchat and Omnicom found. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they'll maintain that increased viewing after the pandemic, according to the study.
Anheuser-Busch is among the makers of alcoholic beverages that have integrated their products in original programming to reach homebound viewers. Spirits brands including Diageo's Smirnoff and Ketel One vodkas have hosted virtual happy hours that included conversations with celebrities and demonstrations of how to make cocktails. Campari's Wild Turkey bourbon in 2019 collaborated with digital media company Complex Networks on two social video series starring Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.
The beverage behemoth has changed up its marketing efforts this year, starting with its decision to not run ads for Budweiser during the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years, redirecting those media dollars to support COVID-19 vaccine awareness. Parent company AB InBev still had a strong presence for the big game, with spots for other brands like Michelob Ultra and Bud Light. During Dry January, a movement to abstain from alcohol after indulging during the holidays, the brand promoted its non-alcoholic Budweiser Zero with a sweepstakes and motivational email campaign. For St. Patrick's Day, a big occasion for beer consumption, Budweiser is highlighting industry-wide "green" initiatives instead of dying its brews green, as the brand has done in the past. Budweiser has pledged to dole out enough renewable energy certificates to cover the estimated amount of electricity used to brew beer in the U.S. in one day.