Bud Light Merges the Real-World (Offline) with the Virtual World (Online)

Recently, I’ve talked a lot about the ability (and power) of mobile + code and/or image recognition technology to bridge the offline with the online and drive consumers deeper into brand experiences. I’ve noticed that brands are increasingly becoming better at telling their story through these technologies, which is critical because, now more than ever, consumers can access those brands through a myriad of channels. There’s a long way to go, for sure – brands need to consider their marketing and communications mix, what channels they’re going to advertise and be present in, what story they’re going to tell & how they’re going to tell it in each of those channels, and more importantly, how/if they’re going to support their story in the “unconventional” channels with what they do in the more “conventional” channels. There’s a brand-story component and an advertising component and the crux is always, how well do they work with each other? Organizations, particularly large ones, are often times fragmented to the point of not knowing what each department (marketing, advertising, PR, customer service, etc…) is doing, much less integrating with each other to make their story and individual campaigns stronger. So, it was a nice surprise when I saw a Bud Light commercial (er, Apollo Creed) call out the ability to “snap” a photo of the box and get immediate access to a clever piece of content – the Bud Light Playbook – all football-season long.

It’s great to see the brand a) incorporating technology like this as a way to touch the consumer while they’re out and about and b) raising consumers’ awareness of this new type of experience via their TV (largest “conventional” media channel) spot. This is obviously a much better way to drive this type of action vs. sticking a code on printed material. I think it’s a great case to learn from, particularly when brands want to place these codes/use this type of technology on their packaging. Consumers are smart, but they need as much awareness of these new entry points as brands can give them.

I was at the store this weekend and although I wasn’t in the market for Bud Light, I had to stop and take a picture of the box so I could get into this experience.

When I found a box that could be “activated” (only found on 12-pack cans), I didn’t have to mess around with it to know what to do. Everything was prominent, clear and actionable. They included imagery of the enticement (the Playbook) front and center, the call-to-action was large enough to notice and read, the “code” was prominent, and the directions were clear.

I don’t know that you could do a better job in executing the basics.

As soon as I texted the picture in, I was led on this adventure which I still can’t determine whether it was annoying or smart. The 1st text I received was to verify my age (smart).

Bud Light Snap Code

The 2nd text was when the true brand experience, in terms of content, started. The options were plentiful – watch this week’s “play”, see more plays, see recipes, tailgating tips, or “Behind Enemy Lines” trailers. And, if I wanted, link directly to the Facebook page. (First impression – smart).

Bud Light Snap Code 2nd Text

I thought this was excellent in terms of the brand’s story – they clearly have a lot of content to offer in this experience. However, I felt like there were so many options that I might lose out on some of the content. I watched the video first and was completely underwhelmed. It rendered horribly on my phone and seemed to start & stop abruptly. There was no “wrapper” at the beginning and end of the video – when it stopped, it just stopped, and popped me back out to my text message. I watched it again, just to see if I missed anything. I didn’t. I commend them on making these videos unique – in style (graphical), in tone, and in content – but I found the combination to verge on silly and void of value. Nonetheless, I couldn’t stop my brand experience here, so I texted in “A” for more plays.

Bud Light Snap Code Text 3

And what do you think I got? Even MORE options – 3 individual plays and then an option for even more plays. (Annoying, now.) So, I closed my eyes and picked one. And I got back another underwhelming video and just two, simple options – go to Facebook or back to the dreaded multi-option menu. (Less annoying.)

Bud Light Scan Code Text 4

It was at this point that I shut my phone down because I had enough of the mobile experience. It didn’t prove to be valuable to me (in fairness, I wasn’t anywhere near a grill or a football game or any environment this seems intended for) and I was down the path so far that I didn’t know what would be required of me to go back and experience other, non-play-video content. So, I just stopped. I figured I could get a better experience in front of my computer. Sure enough, that was the case.

When I got home, I opened up my trusty computer and went straight to the Bud Light Facebook page. Since I wasn’t a fan, the default for me was the Playbook tab. (In executing initiatives for clients, this is something standard that we do, too – default to the campaign-specific tab until someone “Likes” the brand. At that point, the default page is the Wall.) Right there, front and center, was another image of the code and more call-to-action/instructions. Now, I felt like the experience was back to being smart – seeing this front and center creates another level of awareness that the boxes are interactive and reinforces the ability to get the brand on-the-go. It’s also another opportunity to show how easy it really is.

Bud Light Facebook HOME page

Quite possibly my favorite element of this page is the ability to see all of the videos that I felt like I missed whenever I took a certain path through the mobile experience. Seeing more videos didn’t change my opinion of them, but it gave me satisfaction in the fact that I now knew the entire “playlist” and wasn’t missing out on any content.

The rest of the page and the different types of content is good. There’s coaches “tips” (for tailgating and grilling) and tailgating/game-watching recipes and an interactive poll – all different types with different levels of interactivity. There really seems to be something for everyone, regardless of the amount of time someone has to spend with the brand at any given time.

In my opinion, the best part about this whole experience, from an outsider’s point of view, and it’s really smart – it’s all centered around a content strategy that releases new content every week. The content well is continuously being filled, if you will. This is an element of the campaign that truly enables a deeper experience with the brand because a) it keeps content fresh and b) the consumer can receive the “fresh” content through multiple channels. They don’t need to be in front of their computer to keep up with the brand. They just need to be part of the experience and it doesn’t matter if they’re in their home or not. In fact, this particular campaign seems to be primarily targeted to those hard-core football fans who would take many Bud Lights out to the game and tailgate, and it’s there, at the game, outside of their home, that they engage with the brand and this content.

Content is key. Simple as that.

This is just another example of how technology enables an otherwise static, 1-way push-message THING (a box) to become an interactive, 2-way communication VEHICLE.  It’s an illustration of the “new” OOH that I talk about – more and more, we’re seeing the places and things around us having the ability to be “turned on.” And what this does, not only in reaching consumers where they are, when they want it, how they want it, it changes the game in a profound way because it moves something that has always been used to create awareness to something that can now be used to create engagement. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

One thought on “Bud Light Merges the Real-World (Offline) with the Virtual World (Online)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 11th Screen » Bud Light Merges the Real-World (Offline) with the Virtual World (Online) -- Topsy.com

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