Grab A Beer
by Sean O'Malley Jr.
Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched a digital campaign called "Let's Grab a Beer" that seeks
to promote, you guessed it, beer. While that is not surprising, this is: The program carries
almost no branding.
A-B InBev obviously stands to gain if the total beer category grows. And growing volume has
become a critical task for the beer industry in recent years as the liquor industry has gained
business partly through more aggressive marketing by individual brands.there is also an
inherent fear in industry circles about the so-called "wineification" of beer. This refers to
placing emphasis on beer styles, versus brands. For instance, if more people walk into bars
and ask for a "wheat beer," rather than a Shock Top or Blue Moon, brands become less
valuable. And good branding equals profits.
"Grab A Beer" is the official name of the campaign and its inherent call-to-action. If you go to
the campaign web site, you will find a beer lover’s delight of content about beer, in celebration
of beer, beer’s history, and many other sayings and tidbits about beer. It’s a very well designed
site, fun to browse, and is built for easy content-sharing. Like a good category builder, it’s like
a user’s manual for beer newbies.
The question is does it all hold up? The calculation A-B must have made probably goes
something like this: the entire beer category has declined by about 8 points from 2000 to
2014. Worse, craft beers and imports are growing while domestic beers are declining. Worse
still, beer consumption among young adults dropped to 41% in 2012-2013 from 71% two
decades ago, while liquor and wine sales rose from 13% to 28% and 14% to 24% respectively,
during this period. That has to worry a lot of folks making mainstream beer. As for the good
news for A-B, their brands account for 47.2% volume share of all beer sales,
In theory then, if A-B is successful in selling the category to younger drinkers, and earns the
same share as they already get from the market, then they stand to earn a proportionate
percentage of the spoils. But the creative attack at the “Let’s Grab A Beer” site, even though it’
s selling the category, may tip the scales further in A-B’s favor.
Let’s start with the first visual one sees on the “Let’s Grab A Beer” site. It’s not a dark beer, it’s
a light Pilsener. That is not by accident. A-B is introducing the category of beer to younger
drinkers with the easiest and least bitter beer to drink. And the category of which A-B happens
to own a dominant share. Smart.
Further, the marketing idea of “grabbing a beer” is inherently a social one. It’s an iconic beer
selling strategy that is still in play today across many brands. Beer is social, we just need to
find our “occasion,” the brand managers will say.
Now, put these two forces together and you get what the campaign is really saying: have a
Pilsener beer with your friends. Chances are the options on premise for a Pilsener are limited,
which stacks the deck in A-B’s favor beyond the 47.2%. Most any bar has Bud and Bud Light.
Sure there will be some collateral damage from A-B’s standpoint – some percentage of sales
going to Coors or Miller – but this is a numbers game that A-B will win.
Despite the site's marketing strategy, it has one fatal flaw - it’s as bland as the beer. It might
be great shakes to an older demographic but to the target audience it's likely just a yawn.
beernexus.com - SPECIAL REPORT
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