In his initial interview, Bud Light's new-old beer guy was quoted as saying he saw no need to "blow everything up." We agree. For example, among the things we'd suggest not blowing up is the brand's relatively new packaging and brand-identity initiative. Bud Light now stands out far more clearly on the shelf and in its signage.
We liked the new identity direction when we first reviewed it here in 2015, although we worried its key strengths--its delivery of product distinctiveness--might not make it into the brand's ads.
What to blow up
The traditional way of thinking about making ads is where Bud Light needs to pack the TNT.
It's not bragging to point out that this website has been proven consistently correct in predicting the failure of one Bud Light ad campaign after another... here in 2013, here early in 2014, here later in 2014, and perhaps most poignantly, here in 2016 when we asked "Why does Bud Light refuse to sell beer?"
Over all those years, as much as a quarter-billion dollars (maybe more) bet on Bud Light advertising has resulted in sales only going down, down, and down. Advertising is supposed to do the opposite. Bud Light doesn't need a new ad campaign, it needs a new approach to advertising. And what approach is that?
It's called: selling the beer.
Bud Light's sales are eroding for one reason: the brand is no longer seen as special or distinctive in any way. Ask even its loyal drinkers why they buy Bud Light, and you may hear things like "It's on sale a lot," "It's always around," "Nobody hates it," or "It's just what I always buy."
What you won't hear is anything that sounds like distinctiveness. Nothing about how it's special. Nothing about how it's a better beer choice than other brands. Nothing that hints at preference based on some unique--or unique-sounding--property of the beer. Without distinctiveness, there's just nothing to love about Bud Light. Its business--and its drinkers--will continue to drift away.
Selling the beer
"Selling the beer" is a job for the brand's leadership, not a task they delegate to ad agencies. It means orchestrating a rigorous effort to understand what's really different about the beer. Ingredients, brewing processes, history, legend. It's about cataloging. Then comes the challenging part: choosing from all of what's been catalogued, the single most intriguging differences to link to the most powerful benefit the brand can claim. Coors Light has long succeeded with "Rocky Mountain origins (distinctiveness) for cold refreshment (benefit)." Miller Lite currently has half the key with "more taste." They're missing the benefit part. Bud Light has neither.
To the inevitable naysayers who will call this an appeal for pedantic, boring advertising, we'll end our unsolicited advice with a perfect example of a very large brand which only recently made the seismic shift to "selling the beer." A change from fluffy, unfocused, empty ads created mostly to win awards, to ads built on the beer's distinctiveness. All done with charm and humor more engaging than anything we can remember from Bud Light's recent history.
Good luck to Bud Light's new-old guy aiming to do the same.