- Bud Light announced in a news release that it has teamed with the NFL's Cleveland Browns on a "Victory Fridge" full of the brand's beer. The device includes smart technology that will automatically unlock once the Browns win their first regular-season game this year.
- Cleveland-area bars can purchase the fridges to be installed by Bud Light and Ohio-based wholesaler House of LaRose. Victory Fridges will also be placed at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium.
- The Victory Fridges are powered by Bud-E Fridge smart technology and display the message "When the Browns Win, Cleveland Wins."
The Victory Fridge is a fun but tech-savvy gag aimed at the enthusiastic and unwavering fans of the Cleveland Browns, who have supported the team despite an almost impressively long losing streak. The NFL team hasn't won a regular-season game since Dec. 24, 2016, went winless at 0-16 last season and had a record of 1-15 the previous year.
By placing chained-up refrigerators at sports bars and the FirstEnergy Stadium, Bud Light is building on fans' excitement for the upcoming NFL season, when tailgating and watch parties are common. If the Browns do win, the brewer will also be part of what's sure to a be memorable and celebratory moment. With the Victory Fridge, Bud Light can also potentially tap into consumers' growing interest in connected technology and show off its own line of Bud-E Fridge products to both bar owners and patrons.
Football fans have long been an important audience for Bud Light, but the segment might be becoming crucial as the brand grapples with declining sales elsewhere. The brewer's "dilly dilly" catchphrase and series of accompanying ads that launched last year became a viral hit, largely thanks to becoming popular in the NFL. Fans posted the nonsensical saying on social media when touchdowns were scored, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly used the phrase during a televised game last season.
Despite "dilly dilly's" success as a marketing tool, Bud Light has continued to see its performance slide as U.S. consumers more frequently favor wine, spirits and craft beer. Parent company AB InBev saw revenues slip 3.1% during Q2 2018 on lower volumes as Bud Light and other power brands like Budweiser continued to lose market share.