- Anheuser-Busch on Aug. 7 will host its first virtual beer festival on its digital media channels to celebrate International Beer Day. The brewer will begin streaming at 6 p.m. ET at InternationalBeerFest.org and on its accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The programming will include a history of Anheuser-Busch, a behind-the-scenes look at its brewing process and demonstrations on how to make cocktails with actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and several mixologists. Beer brand Stella Artois will give away kitchen utensils during cooking classes with celebrity chefs Jeff Mauro, Jeremy Ford and Esdras Ochoa, followed by a virtual tasting of craft beers hosted by rapper Action Bronson. The festival will conclude with live performances from singers Prince Royce and Jason Derulo.
- As part of the festival, Anheuser-Busch will run e-commerce promotions on Drizly and other delivery services to urge consumers to enjoy the virtual festival while at home. The company plans a takeover campaign on Drizly's website with banners, promo codes and social posts, per its announcement.
Anheuser-Busch's virtual festival for International Beer Day aims to reach younger consumers who haven't attended music and cultural festivals this summer because the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancelation of most live events. By blanketing its programming across its social accounts, the brewer can tell a more complete brand story while connecting with people who are heavy users of social media and are harder to reach through traditional channels like cable and broadcast TV. Leveraging its Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, Bon Viv spiked seltzer and Brewers Collective brands can help Anheuser-Busch reach a wider audience of drinkers.
The promotions with Drizly and other delivery services may urge viewers to participate in the programming, such as the virtual tasting of craft beers and the lessons on how to make cocktails, while watching the festival. Previously, the company's Busch Beer brand offered Drizly discounts as part of a livestreamed trivia game show on Facebook that raised money for bartenders facing financial hardship during the pandemic.
The virtual festival is another sign of how the pandemic has disrupted Anheuser-Busch's sponsorship of live events, where its brands typically emphasize their place in fun gatherings among friends. Among the recent promotions from Anheuser-Busch brands, Michelob Ultra last month started sponsoring a digital experience to let basketball fans virtually attend NBA games held in empty arenas. In May, Michelob Ultra sponsored a charity golf event featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing against NFL greats Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as golf tournaments nationwide restricted fans from attending.
The shift in Anheuser-Busch's promotions to virtual events comes as the company's sales show signs of rebounding as more bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen after pandemic lockdowns. The company last week reported that beer volumes grew 0.7% in June from a year earlier, reversing a 32% plunge in April and 21% drop in May, Brewbound reported. The company ended Q2 with a 17% decline in beer volume, while sales fell 18% to $10.3 billion. The gradual monthly improvement bodes well for the current quarter, though the pandemic may cause unexpected disruptions to the company's operations and marketing plans.