Back in 2013, we noted that Mich Ultra was A-B's only beer "with a recognizable strategic center." We went on to describe that essence as "Fitness beer."
At that time--and since--Ultra has pressed on with this positioning linking its identified benefit (fitness) to its product distinctiveness (lower carbs and calories) in what might best be called "workmanlike" advertising. Straightforward, clear, and direct, but not really stunning. Not the stuff to populate an ad agency's creative reel. But at the same time, it was advertising that moved the one needle that matters: the sales needle.
Here are are two of those ads, an older one on the left, and a more recent one on the right...
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If a brand could have only one or the other--dull but strategically sound on one hand, or creatively snazzy bit strategically vapid on the other--we would strongly recommend choosing the former... every single time. Sound product-distinctiveness-based strategy, even when delivered in flatfooted fashion, will still persuade. And so it will sell beer. Flashy, entertainment-based ads with little or no connection to the product's features (pay attention, Bud Light), however, are a complete waste of money.
Fortunately, a brand doesn't have to choose...
... as Michelob Ultra demonstrates perfectly in its SuperBowl 50 ad...
If you think product-distinctiveness-based ads have to be boring... study this Michelob Ultra ad.
If you think entertainment is the same as advertising... study this Michelob Ultra ad.
If you want to create ads that'll have a place on your ad agency's reel and sell beer... study this Michelo Ultra ad!