Dissecting “Whatever USA – An #UpForWhatever Weekend”
Crested Butte, Colorado was a simple, small rural ski-town until Bud Light kicked off a spontaneous three-day festival on September 5, 2014 for 500 lucky contest winners to experience in all its glory.
Bud Light beer was introduced to the brewery market in 1982 and currently stands as a top-selling beer in the U.S. In order to compete with several other brands in the market Bud Light became the the official beer sponsor of the NFL while creating world-Renowned Super Bowl Advertisements. Consumers in the U.S. provide Bud Light with the opportunity for growth in branding and marketing and Bud light in turn provided its market with the #UpForWhatever national social media campaign to engage more than millions of fans and increase brand preference.
Did Bud Light foster the perfect, aspirational campaign for their thirsty consumer market? We evaluated just how “Up For Whatever” Bud Light fans were throughout the campaign. We focused on how the consumer participation in the contests and the ultimate party weekend affected the brand image and overall preference.
On Feb. 2, 2014 during the 48th Super Bowl, Bud Light introduced the world to #UpForWhatever on national television watched by a recorded 111.5 million viewers that year. The airing commercial’s message positioned Bud Light as the “perfect beer for whatever happens”. Soon the trending topic had targeted consumers, males ages 21-27 years old, engaged in a competition to win a trip to visit a secret summer destination with surprise events somewhere in the U.S. Bud Light set out to turn the campaign and its competitive appeal into a community experience by designing a four-phase Up For Whatever audition for fans to win themselves a spot at the exclusive summer event.
The auditions were for Bud Light’s consumers to prove themselves to be “Up For Whatever” through 15-second video auditions via social media or in-person events at bars and restaurants across the country. Recruitment was of key importance and the company chose to use national media and public relations to encourage consumers to audition and stay tuned in for updates on Whatever USA events.
The Bud Light’s “Up For Whatever” campaign began attracting huge attention from the public with the attendance of 5 rock stars, 4 celebrities and 412 actors. The campaign began two years ago when Bud Light teased the public with the mysterious and creative Super Bowl ads that involved Arnold Schwarzenegger in a sweatshirt warming up nearby a ping-pong table and the appearance of Don Cheadle with a llama.
After that, Bud Light released the extended version, this time tying up all the mysterious ads with an epic story. Bud Light ditched the traditional ads for a real-world stunt that rewarded a random Bud Light drinker for being “Up For Whatever” by treating him/her to a invite-only, celeb-filled party.The campaign was aimed at loyal beer drinkers aged 21-27, who are optimistic and open to “whatever happens.”
Bud Light took it a step further by taking content marketing to the next level. In collaboration with BBDO as well as many experiential marketing agencies, Bud Light created a whole Bud Light town called “Whatever USA” and invited millennials—via a huge summer-long TV, social and in-bar campaign—to audition for a chance to be invited there in September for a weekend of exclusive branded partying. Auditions were meant to find millennials who are willing to embrace the unexpected. These millennials typically have a strong social precise and show strong brand loyalty. Auditions were held on-site at bars with brand activation managers. Consumers were also able to invite their friends to audition by going onto UpForWhatever.com.
Bud Light became one of the most talk-about brands in the world following the Whatever, USA campaign of 2015. The campaign repositioned the brand as “the perfect beer for whatever happens.” They were successful in expanding the #UpForWhatever campaign and increasing awareness of their brand in the 21-27 year old audience.
The campaign kick started with Bud Light making #UpForWhatever a top trending hashtag. They also created three highly shareable YouTube videos using the #UpForWhatever hashtag which received more than 1 million views in 72 hours and 55k facebook likes within 72 hours.
The lead up to the #UpForWhatever weekend of 2015 had more than 1.8 million consumers engaged. The campaign to audition for a spot at the weekend collected 200,000 video auditions and a total of 7 million entries. The campaign awarded spots for the weekend in Whatever, USA to 1,300 people. The user generated social content reached more than 15 million online, with a total of 37,000 posts. At the event, the custom Whatever USA app resulted in 2.5 million engagements and more than 120 million social impressions.
The facts show that Bud Light achieved their goal of increased brand awareness. What’s more, the brand preference grew by 30 percent.
The campaign by Bud Light was an idea so unique it was bound to have success with the millennials age group. It combined the two things so important to the 20-something crowd today: a great party and social media pathways to share it on. Since the event was selective in who can attend, it works to encourage those who did not win a spot to Whatever, USA to host their own party which required the purchase of Bud Light. Also, it is a newsworthy story that would likely be readily covered by many major media outlets because of values like proximity, timeliness and human interest.
There was controversy surrounding the campaign because it went a little too far with one tactic. Bud Light released a lot of beers that had the slogan: “the perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever” printed across the label. While it is clear what they were insinuating, it is also very obvious how the phrase could be taken in an offensive manner. So, if it were us conducting the campaign we would have made a much more conscious effort to ensure we were carefully considering every interpretation behind every outlandish marketing tactic we released to the public.
We chose to compare the Bud Light Whatever USA social media campaign to Miller Lite’s “Show Us Your Miller Time” Summer 2014 campaign. Miller Lite simply asked consumer fans to follow @MillerLite on twitter and post pictures of themselves with the product or logo on their own twitters with the hashtag #itsmillertime. For 100 days, Miller Lite selected 10 winners per day and awarded them $1,000 prizes. Consumer’s photos were posted on an array of media channels for the duration of the campaign, including on-air ESPN billboards.
Miller Lite utilized Twitter best in targeting the brand’s demographic of males aged 22-27 years old. Miller Lite did a good job at giving their consumers the power, they allowed their own target market to generate the brand’s television commercials. The fans were ultimately invited to Chicago for a Miller Lite celebration. At the celebration, fans would be able to have their photo taken by the world’s largest film camera. Overall, Bud Light’s social media campaign had a greater complexity and engaged exponentially more fans. This is probably due to the fact that Bud Light’s campaign lasted longer and made more social media impressions. The culminating party and events at Whatever USA offered more excitement and imaginative thrill over the Miller Lite campaign’s celebration in Chicago.