This Bud’s for you.
I love you, man.
For Anheuser Busch, these taglines have produced viral gold over the past few decades in targeting an increasingly elusive consumer segment.
In fact, Budweiser has a long history of using catchphrases and distinctiveness assets. As early as the 1900s, the iconic “King of Bottled Beers” tagline, eagle logo and signature Clydesdales pulling red delivery wagons carried AB to the throne of domestic lagers. These symbols set the stage for a succession of popular marketing campaigns, many of which have gone on to become a part of the cultural fabric and popular catch phrases.
But, it hasn’t been easy out there for Bud Light. Over the years, America’s beer palate has increasingly been craving something else — small batch, brag-worthy craft beers. Today, there are upwards of 5,300 craft breweries in the United States, up from just 82 back in 1981. This shift in taste and desire for the unique has been particularly prevalent with Millennials.
On top of consumers’s tastes evolving, the domestic beer brands saw some mergers among its top players, Molson Coors and SABMiller (now MillerCoors) and Anheuser Busch and InBev (now AB InBev).
So, how does a legacy brand navigate a crowded kingdom to retain the throne? It gets its brand on the minds of consumers by literally putting words in the mouths of its citizen consumers.
Back in August, Wieden & Kennedy New York launched its first “Dilly Dilly” ad for Bud Light, “Banquet.” Recently, four more versions, “Ye Old Pep Talk,” “Wizard,” “Handouts,” and “Sacrifice” have been released throughout the NFL playoffs, leading up to a final Super Bowl LII ad, rounding out the campaign.
Cleverly riding the coattails of Game of Thrones popularity, in particular with younger-skewing audiences, the ads introduce storylines, characters, and a catchy tagline that is has been a viral hit, “Dilly Dilly”, which is meaningless gibberish, but sounds as it if would be pertinent to medieval times.
No doubt, saying something silly that is nearly universally recognizable at this point certainly has stickiness and relatability benefits. Similarly, “I love you, man” from the late ’90s or “Whassup?” from the early 2000s became temporary greetings and easily shared phrases among both friends and strangers — all served as the perfect interjection to a playful moment and rousing, familiar laugh. Today’s that phrase is currently “Dilly Dilly,” and it is playful, ridiculous and slips easily off the tongue (inebriated or not).
There’s something powerful about jingles, sounds, punchlines, clichés and catchphrases. They get stuck in one’s mind like a record on repeat, giving way to a memory, a moment, a laugh or closing act. This is exactly what Bud Light and Weiden + Kennedy have successfully managed to do, tap into the current cultural zeitgeist where people look for any common connection. By linking one gibberish word that is fun to say, and repeating it, Bud Light has been able to create a verbal bond no matter what one’s background and beliefs might be and in doing so gained cultural cachet.
We wanted to see for ourselves, so we tested “Ye Old Pep Talk,” “Wizard,” “Handouts” and “Sacrifice.” Using our ad-testing approach that measures long-term and short-term impact, all four spots “spiked” above the average on short-term impact, especially “Ye Old Pep Talk.”
In other words, these ads are expected to have strong word-of-mouth, clickthrough, view-through, and an immediate buzz-worthy response. Understanding the importance of driving dynamic conversations is crucial to capitalize upon media spend and drive excess share of voice. So far, W+K has created a social bomb cyclone for Bud Light. Let’s see if the Super Bowl version can score as well. Dilly Dilly.