- Busch Beer is celebrating the start of Major League Baseball's regular season this week with a social media contest to sponsor 10 recreational-league softball teams as part of its "Busch League" initiative. The winning teams will receive $5,000 to divide equally among their players, Busch-branded team jerseys and hats, free beer and other perks, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Teams will also appear in their own Busch ad campaigns. The winning teams are eligible to receive a $10,000 grand prize if they triumph in their league's championship game. Busch also will promote each team with a special billboard in its hometown, according to the brand's Twitter.
- To enter, teams must connect with Busch's social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and post an explanation of why they deserve to win a sponsorship deal. Through April 7, entries need to include the team name and hashtags #SponsoredByBusch and #Contest, per the "Busch League" contest rules.
Busch Beer's social media contest aims to engage amateur athletes who participate in softball leagues around the country. Baseball and softball have the highest participation of any team sport among Americans age six and older at 25.6 million people, although Busch obviously is seeking to reach the portion of beer-drinking adults who gather to play in amateur leagues.
Using actual consumers in ad campaigns could make them appear more authentic, as American Eagle has seen with its #AExME brand platform that uses real customers in its campaigns.
As softballers look to win prizes and their own ad campaign in Busch's latest effort, the beer brand could see higher rates of social media engagement as players post their contest entry on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and share with followers. Busch's tweet announcing the contest has racked up around 2,800 likes since March 25, suggesting that consumers are responding positively to the contest and may be inclined to participate, further extending Busch's reach.
The beer brand has a relatively active Twitter account with more than 56,000 followers of its steady feed of humorous anecdotes, polls and banter with fans. Last month, Busch celebrated its 40-year presence at Nascar's Daytona 500 race with a live trivia game on Twitter.
Social media contests like Busch’s have become an increasingly popular way to interact directly with audiences. Airline JetBlue last month offered a year of free travel to three Instagram users and their travel companions who deleted all their posts on the image-sharing app and replaced them with a single specially tagged photo. Retailer T.J. Maxx this month debuted an Instagram contest that asked shoppers to guess the total cost of items contained in an in-store pod.
Busch's parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev is among the brewers that seek to reverse a multiyear loss in market share as young adults show greater preference for eclectic craft beer brands, wine and spirits. AB InBev's sales fell 0.9% while MillerCoors saw a 2.9% decline in 2018, according to retail data provider IRI. U.S. beer sales grew 1.8% to more than $35 billion last year as imports, craft beer, domestic super premiums, flavored malt beverages and cider made up for the decline in domestic premium brands like Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite and Coors Light.