Bud Light’s ‘Game of Thrones’ mashup and anti-corn-syrup stance net marketing gold

Jousting and jesting, the brand garnered the bulk of the Super Bowl’s social media impressions. However, its barbs targeting rival breweries earned it criticism as well as positive buzz.

Bud Light's Super Bowl ads score

The New England Patriots emerged once again as Super Bowl champions, but Bud Light claimed the big game’s marketing victory.

The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand grabbed viewers’ attention with its partnership with HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” In the ad, the beer’s Bud Knight—along with an arena of watchers—gets vanquished in gruesome fashion:

The Drum reported:

One of the most talked about brands, Bud Light, brought its Bud Knight into the fantasy world in its crossover spot with HBO’s Game of Thrones. Data from iSpot shows that ‘Jousting’ earned more than 170m social impressions by the middle of the third quarter.

Adweek reported:

Additionally, the minute-long Bud Light and HBO collaboration to help promote the final season of  Game of Thrones received plaudits on social media, with statistics from Brandwatch indicating that as of 6 pm EST, the light-beer brand had 57,000 mentions across Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter.

What’s more, its share of the conversation spiked several times during the course of the evening’s proceedings, with its largest increase in social mentions—the largest mention spike of any brand during the game—occurring immediately after its Game of Thrones collaboration. Brandwatch data shows that social-media reaction to this 60-second spot lasted two minutes, generating a total of 4,600 social mentions across platforms.

Bud Light’s collaboration with “Game of Thrones” wasn’t the only marketing message from the beer brand to incite conversation, however.

In another ad, Bud Light touted its brew’s ingredients with a snarky narrative about its shunning of corn syrup:

The spot was a continuation of Bud Light’s recent marketing campaign highlighting its ingredients.

Fortune reported:

While also taking aim at two smaller competitors, Bud Light was using the Super Bowl commercial to highlight the fact that as of this month it lists its ingredients on its packaging. Such labeling isn’t required for alcoholic beverages, though many brands include calories and other nutritional information. Bud Light says it’s the first beer company to list ingredients in the U.S. “We think it is good for the beer industry as a whole to be transparent about what’s in your beer,” Andy Goeler, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, told USA TODAY. “Just as important as what’s in is what’s not in our beer. … No corn syrup, no preservatives, no artificial flavors.”

Bud Light’s social media team spread that message in the brand’s responses to Twitter users:

Many Twitter users poked fun at the campaign:

Miller Lite and MillerCoors responded to Bud Light’s snark with their own zingers:

The New York Times reported:

“It was interesting they went for a broad brand play there and actually attacked their competitors,” said Jon Haber, co-founder of the ad agency Giant Spoon. “They did it in a funny and cute way.” The aim seemed to be to “put that little seed of doubt in there” for consumers in stores, who are deciding between the three brands, he said.

“Pepsi and Coke have done it to each other for years,” Mr. Haber said of the jab. “It’s a tried-and-true tradition.”

However, the sassy commercial, combined with its partnership with “Game of Thrones,” helped Bud Light emerge as Super Bowl LIII’s marketing winner.

Adweek reported: “Bud Light was the most-mentioned brand in posts related to the Super Bowl, with about 22,500 mentions.” The runner-up, Pepsi, accumulated 17,800 social media mentions.

Several other brewers and a liquor brand jumped onto the “no corn syrup” bandwagon:

Hoping to grab 15 minutes seconds of fame, social media managers for Perrier and Franks RedHot also tweeted about their abstaining from the oft-maligned ingredient:

Though Bud Light’s corn syrup ad won it headlines and conversation, it reaped backlash along with the Twitter snark.

The National Corn Growers Association lashed out at the beer brand and said farmers were “disappointed” in the message:

Individual corn farmers also criticized the brewer, with one tweeting a video in which he pours Bud Light down the drain:

Fortune reported:

Bud Light’s “Special Delivery” commercial dragged Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup in their beers, a move meant to portray Bud’s simple ingredients — water, barley, rice and hops — as superior. But corn farmers weren’t amused by the implication that corn syrup is unhealthy or undesirable.

Bloomberg reported:

Anheuser-Busch said it “fully supports” corn growers and will continue to invest in the industry. “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers,” it said in a statement.

 

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