Bud Light marketing strategy ignores the First Law of Holes


Advertising Age reported on Bud Light’s summer marketing plans May 1, and they’re straight out of the 13-year-old Saturday Night Live “More Cowbell” sketch.

You remember – the one where Christopher Walken, playing a music producer, keeps telling a band to add more and more cowbell until the take is totally ruined.

Doubling down on music

Having put “major resources” behind a Labor Day weekend music festival in Philadelphia last year, parent company A-B InBev

is rolling out a program called “Bud Light Music First” that will culminate Aug[ust] 1 with one concert in all 50 states.

The event, called “50/50/1,” will be staged everywhere from Anchorage, Alaska[,] to Albuquerque, N.M.[,] and feature acts including Kendrick Lamar, Sublime with Rome, Alex Clare and the Flaming Lips. Bud Light will promote the event on MySpace, which will host a hub for the program in which fans can get concert updates, listen to featured artists and download a special app that can be used to win prizes, including concert tickets.

They’re also bringing back Justin Timberlake as “music curator” front man for  pseudo-craft beer Bud Light Platinum’s advertising campaign.

Misery loves company?

Even the fact that Bud Light’s partnering with MySpace is deja vu all over again.

You remember MySpace, don’t you?

That’s the social network that people used to go to until Facebook came along.

“This is not the first time that A[-]B InBev has partnered with MySpace, which is attempting a comeback after being overtaken by Facebook years ago,” Ad Age notes. “The site served as a digital partner for the ‘Bud Light Hotel’ music event in New orleans during the Super Bowl.”

Good money after bad?

Bud Light VP Rob McCarthy claims that music is a “unique platform” that “brings people together, yet everyone interacts with it on a personal level.”


But based on results to date, they don’t interact on a personal level by buying Bud Light.

For the first three quarters of 2012, Budweiser sales were down 6 percent – 7 percent for the third quarter alone. January through March of this year saw Bud sales down only 4.1 percent. And for the four weeks ending April 13, Bud Light sales were down another 6 percent.

Bud Light Platinum’s introduction at February’s Grammy Awards telecast with a 60-second commercial (that did more to sell Justin Timberlake’s new CD than the beer) produced an encouraging blip.

But as of April 13, Platinum’s sales were down a whopping 36 percent.

Clearly, something’s not working here. But unfortunately, it’s the something that Bud Light’s doubling down on.

The First Law of Holes

British politician Dennis Healey enunciated what came to be known as the First Law of Holes:

If you’re in a hole, stop digging.

That’s excellent advice if you don’t want to end up burying yourself (or your brand).

Albert Einstein put it a slightly different way when he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

These are clear, simple, intuitive principles, and you don’t have to be an Einstein to grasp them – unless you happen to work for Bud Light, that is.

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