Budweiser, the iconic American beer brand, has doubled down on its involvement with sport, in particular women’s soccer, as a response to the perception of the brewer as a soulless industrial scale brew.

“We can talk about the quality of the product or how we grew it 1,000 times. What consumers are reading [and] telling us is that we need to be more human again: ‘You need to reconnect with us as people,’” Marcel Marcondes, US CMO for Anheuser-Busch InBev, told 3,000 delegates at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference.

(For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Budweiser builds human connections with sports and marketing)

There is a real business imperative here. The bigger and more commercial the brand’s perception became, the less people agreed that it was a brand worth paying more for. Ubiquity can lead to commoditization, and the brand needed to work hard to make itself seem human again.

To aid the brand’s perception, it needed to get closer to brand-relevant stories in sporting culture now. These were:

  • Gender Equality and Soccer
  • Baseball and Black History
  • Basketball and Integrity
In terms of soccer, the key opportunity came with the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in France this summer. In particular, with the champions, the US Women’s team. “They're the biggest winners in the world,” Marcondes asserted. But the conversation that the team had started was larger.

“We were celebrating these women again and again,” Marcondes said, “but we were only doing it every four years. So, the day before the final match, we said, ‘Okay, regardless of if they win or not,’” Budweiser would become the first official beer sponsor of the National Women's Soccer League.

In baseball, the brand focused on making its American values positioning less abstract: by focusing on being a brand for American people. Especially people who carved a niche in the American heartland despite the country’s racist history, such as the first African-American Major League Baseball player, Jackie Robinson, whom Budweiser honoured on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

One of the metrics that this work revealed was a “thank-you factor" – effectively when people don’t just engage with the brand, but thank it for what it has done. “We now track the ‘Thank-You Factor’, because we think it is the ultimate level of engagement.”

Sourced from WARC