11 August 2015

Marketing to the Military Case Study: Budweiser

David Yoo, RallyPoint Civilian Careers.
Budweiser Marketing to the Military



Budweiser is a popular pale lager produced by Anheuser–Busch, an American brewing company based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Prior to selling SeaWorld Parks and Busch Gardens to private equity firm Blackstone GroupAnheuser-Busch was one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, operating ten theme parks through the company's family entertainment division. 


Budweiser Marketing Motorsports
Budweiser has, for years, been known for sport sponsorships such as baseball, football, soccer, and motorsports. The company has also been involved with video game sponsorship during the early years of the video game industry, and has also been known for airing humorous advertisements. Some of Budweiser's advertising tactics have become so popular that they are an indispensable part of the company's marketing strategy. Namely, the Budweiser Clydesdales (pictured above) have become an iconic image of the company, often being used in the Rose Parade and Superbowl commercials.

Below we'll discuss in full detail some of the strategies Budweiser has employed in bolstering their nearly ubiquitous recognition from sports lovers and TV surfers, to military veterans. 


Viral Video Marketing Campaigns

If you recall our previous post about video campaigns, we stressed the importance of creating consistent, valuable content. Things that people would want to spend time watching. 

Budweiser consistently creates and uploads videos on its official YouTube account, whose content consists of updates on the Made in America music festival, the company's sponsored Bud and Burgers Championship, and many of the company's aired commercials. Check out the company's 2015 Super Bowl Commercial titled “Lost Dog.”



One of the things we mentioned in our previous post about video campaigns was that "airing one or two commercials on television" would probably not communicate your company's culture or its commitment to its mission statement. The video above, while valuable to those who were willing to watch it, does not go beyond its heartwarming nature to call for a particular course of action or to propagate a sentiment the company wants to share with its viewers.

Indeed, airing one or two commercials like these may popularize your company's name to the families and friends spending their Sunday evening watching the game. But the most instructive part of Budweiser's video marketing strategy is its consistency and diversity of the message it has spread. For example, aside from a myriad of different projects and communities the company has targeted, Budweiser has regularly demonstrated its dedication to support the troops and those who have risked their lives to protect their fellow countrymen through viral video campaigns. 

Check out some of the numerous videos that Budweiser and the parent company have created to demonstrate their gratitude for veterans and service members. Many of these videos were created to build positive public perceptions of the company by emphasizing the company's efforts to support those who serve.


'Troops Coming Home'

'Coming Home'

A Hero's Welcome - Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial

9/11 Tribute

The last video, a tribute to those who have lost their lives in 9/11, was remastered and released again on 2011 as a ten year anniversary tribute. The videos were meant as tributes and a public demonstration of the company's solemn respect for those who have perished during and after the crisis. The commercials never aired more than once so as to not profit from the commemoration of the lives lost during the tragedy.


Promotions, Donations, and Building Culture

We mentioned that one of the main reasons to create valuable video campaigns is to inform the viewer of your company's culture and to shape the brand in the would like by emphasizing certain qualities. The commercials and videos linked above were some of Budweiser's content that centered on military service, emphasizing qualities the company prized such as patriotism, camaraderie, gratitude, respect, support, and service. The company has, for long, supplemented their video marketing campaign with genuine outreach to those who have served. Consider some of these initiatives that show the company's commitment to making an impact in the military community:


Budweiser Baseball Marketing
1) In March 2011, Budweiser launched the “Here’s to the Heroes” Home Run program. The program involved a $100 donation for every home run hit during the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season to benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation, an initiative that provides educational scholarships to the dependents of service members killed or disabled in the line of duty. Additionally, the company donated a portion of every case sold from May 26 – July 10 to the organization.

2) More than 5,500 Anheuser-Busch employees have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and other military campaigns. Employees currently serving in the U.S. military may resume their jobs at Anheuser-Busch.

Sports Marketing Budweiser
3) From 2001 to 2009, more than 5 million military service personnel and their families received free admission to select theme parks through the “Here’s to the Heroes” program sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser. 

The company remains a sponsor of this popular program in Florida, Virginia and Texas. The company also helped found the U.S. Military Sports Association, an organization that supports our uniformed men and women’s sports activities, and has donated more than 18,000 pieces of sports equipment to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

4) Since 1987, the company and its Foundation have donated nearly $11 million to military charities, including the USO, Fisher House, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Pentagon Memorial Fund, America Supports You, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Hispanic War Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, among others.

Budweiser Marketing Rose Parade
5) On New Year’s Day 2011, Budweiser paid tribute to America’s heroes with a patriotic float in the Tournament of Roses Parade, which was pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales and featured veteran service organizations and Anheuser-Busch employees who had served in the military. The gesture was made to give thanks to those who have been in active duty or who are currently serving and for all the sacrifices they've made to protect the residents within the country.


Blogs, Infographics, and White Papers

Blogs: 
Budweiser has also made effective use of other content marketing strategies to bolster its public reputation as a socially aware thought leader with expertise in fields related to brewery and drinking culture. 


Budweiser Blog Marketing
When going to the company's blog, you will notice that the content marketing team regularly creates a diverse array of different topics. Whether the post is about the company's environmental efforts, a recipe to brew an imperial stout oatmeal recipe, or about how lager should be tried over wine at the dinner table for the night, Budweiser's marketing team is constantly creating valuable and searchable content for its viewers. The blog's home page is visually appealing and user friendly, allowing you to go through previous posts and catch up on the latest news, company initiatives, fan-made recipes, etc.

Infographics:
Budweiser Infographic
The company has created or commissioned contractors to create visually appealing infographics. For example, During the FA Cup, Budweiser wanted to create an infographic that compared the life cycle of the pint of Budweiser in one's hand to the events that have occurred during the the FA Cup so far. The campaign was designed to be used across Facebook and the focus was to create an engaging timeline. The importance of having visual content is at an all-time high. As the Content Marketing Institute reported, "Social media sites that focus exclusively on images are swiftly gaining in popularity. In February, TechCrunch reported that the percentage of online adults using Pinterest (15 percent) had almost caught up to the percentage using Twitter (16 percent)." Budweiser understands the appeal of creating visual content and has taken advantage of its presence on social media to spread this type of content to its viewers. 


Budweiser Infographics Marketing
The organization will continue to create informative and well-designed bits like the one above as part of its ongoing content marketing strategy. For instance, another notable infographic created with the intent of informing and spreading a bit of the company's culture and history. Not all of Budweiser's (or your company's) content has to be overt advertisement. Many individuals find even bits like the one depicted here interesting, due to the colorful presentation of what would otherwise be fairly uninteresting information. 

White Papers:
The company is also no stranger to creating white papers on topics of importance. Given the nature of the company's products and the association between alcohol and impaired judgment, many brewing organizations are constantly under scrutiny. According to Anheuser-Busch's press release, "Anheuser-Busch's representatives participated in the launch of the Beer Institute’s comprehensive white paper detailing alcohol responsibility efforts, including drunk-driving and underage-drinking prevention, and supportive data – including those championed by Anheuser-Busch. Maryellen Pado, Senior Director for Corporate Social Responsibility at Anheuser-Busch, presented Budweiser’s 'Friends Are Waiting' campaign to attending congressional staff and media." 

Given the dangerous nature of under age drinking and driving under the influence, the company has taken an active step to write a report in a white paper that could be read here. Writing these types of reports show the public that you are a thought leader and recognize that you are truly committed to your company's core values.


Takeaway

The key takeaway from this case study on Budweiser's marketing strategy is this: you don't have to be as big as these companies to create valuable content to benefit your business

While it's true that we've investigated perhaps one of the most well-funded companies with a large budget for marketing, the fact is that many businesses can still succeed in creating content that can attract consumers and other businesses alike. As we've mentioned repeatedly throughout our previous posts, you do not need to buy prime time Superbowl commercial advertising slots in order to spread your message, your company's culture, your products/services, or your mission. Remember, businesses have started and taken off with less resources and less access to an audience. 


For more information about creating valuable content for marketing to general audiences as well as for specific military audiences, check out some of previous blog posts about content marketing and using video campaigns.

Check out some of RallyPoint's unique Business Services here and have access to more than 740,000 members of the military and former military on our social network.

4 comments:

  1. I never really realized how effective Budweiser's marketing is... but now that you pointed it out, it's so obvious! And heck, who can forget those old Budweiser frogs? They're actually much more memorable to me than the Clydesdale horses are. I'll definitely have to keep some of Budweiser's tactics in mind when I'm working on my restaurant website - they definitely know what they're doing, and it's always a good strategy to emulate success.

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