Did the King of Beers get it wrong?
When branding fails to do what it was intended for.
Budweiser has been a brand pioneer for decades with some of the most memorable ad campaigns in the history of advertising. More often than not, they have worked to be the everyday man’s beer, and their messaging generally reflected that. Whether it was the frogs on the lily pads, the use of their famous Clydesdales, ‘this buds for you’, or the infamous ‘Wassuuup’ campaign, they were always able to immerse themselves into the national conversation.
In the process, they managed to maintain their place as America’s number-one selling beer. But times, they are a changing.
According to John Harrington of 27/7 Wallstreet –
“Consumption of legacy beer brands is down because millennial consumers are migrating to wine and mixed drinks. Craft beer makers also are taking market share from big beer makers. Another factor behind the slide in consumption of major beer brands is the rising demand for beer brands from Mexico like Modelo and Corona.”
The most recent “Dilly Dilly” campaign from Budweiser appears to be taking on this challenge, but I wonder if they might be heading in the wrong direction. Sure, it’s catchy and memorable, but does it do what it’s supposed to do? Does it sell more beer?
Truth is, the most creative and clever campaign ever invented means very little if it doesn’t do the job it was intended for. In this case, I think Budweiser was attempting to tap into a new and younger audience, but they may have been too clever for their own good.
To start, when you think of the all-American beer drinker, the last thing that comes to mind is a King handing out beer to his subjects. Look, I get it – Budweiser is the king of beers, but still. Didn’t we have that whole revolution thing a few years back?
As for the tagline they use, “Not for the few, but for the many”,I personally think this is brilliant. They are tapping into the fact that they are indeed “Americas beer”, almost making fun of a more elite crowd that is above drinking anything that doesn’t have the word ‘craft’ on it. However, having a royal court deliver this message just feels wrong and fails to provide an emotional connection with their core audience.
Maybe that wasn’t even their intention with this campaign, but that would only make the messaging and concept behind it that much more ineffective.
In the end, I would have doubled down on Budweiser’s core audience instead of chasing one that was never really theirs to begin with.
So, what does all of this have to do with branding?
Well, whether you are a small local business or giant corporation, you have to know who your audience is. When you fail to do this, or forget who they are along they way, you will soon find that your messaging is no longer effective – even for the King of Beers.
For everyday branding tips, subscribe to our Razor Branding blog and podcast.