Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser still has no real challenger for the title of King of Beers in the US. The extended family - led by top-selling Bud Light - still accounts for almost one out of every four beers consumed in America. A run of enormously effective television commercials featuring talking lizards and TV-obsessed couch potatoes did much to consolidate the brand's position between 1995 and 2002, and also boosted Budweiser's profile with a wider global audience. However, the beer's hold on the international market is somewhat less secure, not least as a result of a long-running and damaging legal dispute with Czech brewer Budvar. That has begun to change now that Budweiser is owned by global titan AB InBev, which declared its intent to confirm Budweiser as "the first truly global beer brand". At the same time, to smooth ruffled feathers in the US over the takeover of a domestic icon by a foreign company, Budweiser has placed an even greater emphasis on its American heritage since early 2009, describing itself as "The Great American Lager". Yet even in Budweiser's domestic market, there has a wider subtle shift among consumers towards less mass-market brands, and the Bud family as a whole has been powerless to halt a slow but steady erosion of its popularity in favour of imported or craft beers and more recently alcoholic seltzers. AB InBev has responded with even more aggressive advertising. That resulted in a vicious battle over allegations that main rival Miller Coors used corn syrup in its ads, as well as an attempt to establish "Dilly Dilly" as America's favourite slogan in a medieval-themed ad campaign. Neither scheme worked especially well: the Dilly Dilly ads were enormously popular but they didn't sell more beer. In the mean time, the brand has unleashed a succession of variants designed to win back defecting customers. Bud Ice has been around for years. More recent variants have included Mexican-style versions (Bud Light Chelada), craft versions (Budweiser Black Crown), low-carb versions (Budweiser Select), premium high-strength versions (Budweiser Reserve, Bud Light Platinum), flavoured versions (Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Orange, even Bud Light Lemon Tea), no-alcohol versions (Budweiser 0.0 and Budweiser Prohibition) and now even Bud Light Seltzer in an attempt to fend off the challenge from White Claw and others. Only a few of these variants have lasted for longer than a single season. In 2018, Bud Light remained America's #1 beer but sales continued to slide. Volume of 23.35m barrels was down almost 21% in five years, while the main Budweiser brand was down 25% over the same period to 11.3m barrels. Bud Ice contributed another 2.5m barrels (higher in fact that in 2013). Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime were the best of the rest at around 700k barrels each.
Capsule checked 5th February 2020
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Historical profile information for Budweiser
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jun 2020: "Buds Are Back". Oh, the power of a great song! Plus some adorable animals. With commercials production still mostly in lockdown, Anomaly's Canadian outpost have done a fine job of make-do-and-mend to let Budweiser celebrate - let's hope there's cause for it - the re-opening of US bars. The new spot blends clips and out-takes from a selection of past Super Bowl ads featuring the famous Clydesdales and their puppy sidekick. Frankly, they've done such a good job you'd think it must all be new footage. But the real engine of the spot is Queen's matchless 'Don't Stop Me Know'. Just call me Mr Fahrenheit.
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Feb 2020: "Whassup Again". Twenty years is a long time in any industry, but in advertising it's like a lifetime. Yet, our more mature readers may recall Budweiser's hugely admired 'Whassup' ad campaign from 1999. Adapted by DDB from a short film by writer-director Charles Stone III, it showed Stone and a group of his friends chilling at their respective homes ahead of a big football game on TV and calling each other to ask "Whassup....?" The ad caused a minor sensation back then, and was widely copied. (If you don't recall it, or even if you do, the original and its sequels can be enjoyed here at Vimeo.) Fast forward to 2020 and the Toronto outpost of Mosaic - otherwise best-known as a shopper marketing agency - has revisted that classic ad with a very funny 21st century update, which aired during the Canadian broadcast of last weekend's Super Bowl. Fantastic work. True.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Jan 2020: "Typical American". Only a little over a week to go to Super Bowl Sunday and here, finally, is the first full-length ad sneak peek (after a generally uninspiring collection of teasers from other brands). As usual, AB InBev is going large on Super Bowl, with multiple spots booked. Budweiser is no stranger to wrapping itself in the American flag, but this spot, overseen by David Miami, is actually quite nicely done, displaying a slightly lighter touch than Bud's previous patriotic specials, courtesy of a drily self-deprecating script. Clearly it's designed to play best with the home audience, but even us foreign citizens can appreciate a nice bit of work. The director, by the way, is Kathryn Bigelow, who's had not nearly enough to do since she won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker more than a decade ago.
Adbrands Social Media 26th Mar 2019: "Impact". Riding high after his richly deserved Oscars win, Spike Lee lends his inestimable talents to Budweiser for this splendid film to mark the centenary of the birth of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson. And all in time for the new season opening this week. Robinson's name may be familiar to readers outside the US, but perhaps not his achievement. He was the first ever black Major League Baseball player, breaking a long-established colour bar in the game. Despite playing only ten seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he ended up as one of the sport's highest achieving athletes. Dentsu Aegis Network's Isobar worked with Lee on the campaign. This is actually the shorter version of the ad; there's also a full three minute version which pays tribute to various other members of minority groups who broke the mould in their chosen fields.
Adbrands Social Media 19th Feb 2019: "New Bud in Town". Is there nothing Charlize Theron can't do? From Amazonian sex goddess to action star to vulnerable mother in 'Tully', she can handle almost anything thrown at her. We're pretty certain, though, she doesn't hang around on her own in dive bars drinking Budweiser; not even the beer's new premium Copper Reserve special edition. Oh well. Still what is an actor good for if they can't pretend now and then? Digital agency VaynerMedia has been bumped up to lead creative for this compelling if rather corny spot that's heading for a slot in the Oscars telecast next weekend. Now what guy wouldn't want their ass whupped by Charlize, even with her good arm tied to a glass of beer?
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