In these times, it is the Super Bowl that decides the fate of a brand. Ads could be either lauded or ridiculed, irrespective of the highly expensive slots they are being aired on. Agencies could risk getting fired, the brand marketing guy may have to step down, but neither reason is big enough for rolling out risky ads designed to mock competitors.
One of the commercials by Budweiser at the Super Bowl 2015 seemingly mocked not only craft beer, but also the people who enjoyed it. Anheuser Busch’s most popular beer brand incited a worldwide backlash last year, when its ad titled ‘Brewed The Hard Way’ suggested that it’s superior to craft beer.
“The people who drink our beer are people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way,” it claimed. “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds,” it said, hammering the last nail on its coffin. The ad was pulled down but only after it had done hurting sentiments of craft beer breweries, craft beer aficionados, and as per the Huffington Post, some congressmen and senators too.
Budweiser was pushed to acknowledge that all beer is ‘brewed the hard way’; it did, however, find a turnaround: ‘The Hard Way Series’. Host and beer writer, Ethan Fixell embarked on a journey through Budweiser’s brewing process and philosophies. The four-part series comprised brand stories contrasted with the stories of four other people: a tattoo artist, a knife maker, a chef and a surfboard shaper, each of whom shared the same level of passion for their craft. They always did it the hard way, just like Budweiser is ‘brewed the hard way.’
Budweiser ‘Brewed The Hard Way’ has recently made its India debut, paying tribute to three young people who’ve been brewed the hard way. Robin Singh, lead striker of the Indian football team, Masaba Gupta, the youngest fashion designer and musician Sahej Bakshi, popularly known as Dualist Inquiry make a remarkable impact with their own success stories of having been brewed the hard way.
Each of them embodies the values of Ambition, Authenticity and Freedom respectively in what’s been named as chapters in the ‘Budweiser Hard Way Series’. The films have been conceptualized and produced by DigitasLBi.
Ambition leads the series with Robin going back in time to when he decided to pursue football in a cricket-addicted nation, a decision he was told he would live to regret. It was his ambition that drove him despite the setbacks, captured nicely in the minute-long film. ‘If you are true to your ambition, if you’ve been brewed the hard way, nothing can stop you,” he asserts at the end.
Freedom highlights Sahej’s search for his inner music leading to the creation of Dualist Inquiry. He talks about the binary nature of things, the duality that inspires him to bring together opposing forces into music, which gives him freedom. “Sound waves get a purpose, an emotional meaning and then everything else fades away.”
Authenticity is Masaba’s mantra in the world of fashion. Living up to two legacies in her parents, and carving her own niche at such a young age was only possible because of staying authentic to her craft. “Even today, I’m just a little girl draping mum’s saree and making it my own. I’m no longer chasing a legacy, but leaving behind my own – one print at a time,”
For ‘Brewed the Hard Way’, Budweiser’s music property MADE Stage, that features artists who have been brewed the hard way, held its first edition in Mumbai. Sahej Bakshi (Dualist Inquiry), Kohra and Madboy Mink entertained the audience, while spreading the new brand philosophy. An EDM festival called Tomorrowland Unite was next on the line in Hyderabad. A contest invited fans to solve jumbled up names of artists for a chance to attend the Tomorrowland at Belgium.
Budweiser’s social media has been spreading the idea along with MADE Stage updates.
Connecting Gen Y with Budweiser’s legacy
Music brings young people together, so building music properties of your own is what some of the world’s popular liquor brands have been indulging in over the years. With the emergence of so many breweries and the wide choice of craft beers, it has become increasingly tougher for a legacy brand like Budweiser to stay relevant and connected to Gen Y. Budweiser’s ‘Brewed The Hard Way’ is seemingly a perfect blend of tying it all together for the brand in one integrated campaign.
The chapters celebrating Ambition, Authenticity and Freedom tell millennials the brand stands up for them for these values, while featuring the ‘brewed the hard way’ stories of its MADE Stage artists and other passionate youngsters further accentuates its philosophy, while resonating with a young consumer segment. The idea of being brewed since 1876, connecting its brewing story with those of passionate young people has made for a relevant campaign targeting Gen Y.
A couple of months ago, Signature, a United Spirits whisky brand, had set sail on similar water, with its Signature Start Up’ campaign that was powered by a transformative belief – #PassionToPaycheck.. It featured a number of real life success stories of a drummer, a photographer, an actor, and many more, who’ve made the difficult transition from well-paying corporate jobs, to convert their passion into paycheck. Read: Signature StartUp Brings Forth Real Life #PassionToPaycheck Stories.
Budweiser’s ‘Brewed The Hard Way’ holds scope for building the beer brand as a unifier of passionate folks around the world.