What marketers can learn from Anheuser-Busch

These takeaways from the beer brand show pros how to tell stories, relate with consumers, and be responsible.

Anheuser-Busch is the king of beers, but it also rules in terms of marketing.

Proudly displayed on the brand’s website is the following statement:

In 2008, Anheuser-Busch celebrated its 10th consecutive USA TODAY “Ad Meter” victory. The USA TODAY “Ad Meter” is a real-time consumer poll that ranks Super Bowl ads throughout the game.

Whether or not you’re marketing to beer enthusiasts, here are five lessons from Bud that all pros can take note of:

1. Remember to brand.

Anheuser-Bush’s 1995 ad is not only considered one of the best Super Bowl commercials ever, it’s also great example of clever branding. Even today, people remember the Budweiser frogs—and, of course, its iconic Clydesdales.

With all the noise in today’s media, marketing pros have gone to new heights to try to make their messages stand out. That may work at times, but there’s also the risk of losing your branding entirely. For example, most people didn’t remember the wildly popular Darth Vader Super Bowl commercial was actually from VW.

“Star Wars was a blessing and a curse. Some thought it overshadowed the brand,” says Justin Osborne, VW’s general manager of advertising and marketing. “Some people still call it the Darth Vader ad, not the VW ad.”

2. Use humor to get your point across.

Not everything in marketing has to be dramatic; many successful campaigns use a lighter approach. Audiences tend to drop their guard after you make them laugh.

Brand managers should beware, however: Humor must be used appropriately. Making light of serious situations can lead to offense and crisis situations, so save the chuckles for things your audience can actually laugh about.

3. When all else fails, use puppies.

Or kittens.

It’s not just the use of puppies that make these campaigns so endearing and popular; it’s the great use of storytelling. (A YouTube video breaks down the elements of this ad’s storytelling prowess.)

By now, communications pros should know people want to do business with other people that they know, like, and trust—not just cold, corporate entities devoid of personality.

When a brand’s storytelling makes it personable and warms consumers’ hearts, that’s a marketing win that surpasses any budget.

4. Be responsible.

If you weren’t moved close to tears after watching this video, you might not have a heart.

Anheuser-Busch used a touching story to relate a measure of corporate social responsibility. Sure, the brand is fun and at times irreverent, but that doesn’t mean the company shouldn’t show it cares.

Brand managers can use partnerships, social stances, and other responsibility measures to gain trust with their audience.

5. Consistency is key.

In the examples above, note the consistency the Anheuser-Busch team demonstrates.

They clearly brand themselves, they tell great stories, and you know when you see a puppy/horse combo, the beer shot is most likely coming. Anheuser-Busch’s tweets display the same sense of branding: Messages are short and snappy, and they feature products without any sales pitches.

There’s a value to shaking things up and trying new campaign approaches, especially once a strategy has gone stale. There’s also value in building a consistent set of messages that consumers can instantly recognize.

Learn more lessons from a queen of beers tomorrow at 2 p.m. Central time as our #RaganSocial Twitter chat features Anheuser-Busch branding communications pro Lisa Weser.


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