Bud Light trades Viking warriors for Hallmark moments

Bud Light hopes its new creative can build on the resounding success of last year's 'This Calls for a Bud Light' campaign, which featured, among other things, screaming Vikings. ...

Bud Light hopes its new creative can build on the resounding success of last year’s ‘This Calls for a Bud Light’ campaign, which featured, among other things, screaming Vikings.

With many beer brands now focusing on giving guys more time – such as the Blue Light Time Liberation Front – executions in this new campaign, which rolled out April 23, move beyond time-saving devices, to show the actual impact of the Bud Light Institute’s devious master plan.

‘Greeting Card,’ in which we see a ‘Hallmark’ moment between mother and daughter during wedding dress fittings, is the most original of the new spots. The mother offers advice on how to keep a man happy throughout a marriage. The camera pans across photos of the mother over the years doing tasks normally associated with the man of the house – building a retaining wall, fixing a fence – while husband and friends enjoy Bud Light. At the end, the beautiful bride-to-be has a tear streaming down her cheek, as do the good folks at the Bud Light Institute.

The spots will be in high rotation on most major TV and radio networks in Ontario and Atlantic Canada (currently the primary Bud Light 1-1 focused markets, according to Labatt). They will be combined with corporate properties including professional sporting events such as the 2001 Skins Game, an annual high-profile golf tournament, for which Bud Light is a primary sponsor.

‘Sin and Sentimentality’ (60-second version) hit East Empire theatres in Atlantic Canada and Famous Players cinemas in Ontario last month. The rest of the new ads, including the 30-second TV version of ‘Sin and Sentimentality’ will appear in Ontario starting the week of May 7.

‘Sin and Sentimentality’ is the Bud Light Institute’s interpretation of what women like in movies. As such, it is a take-off of romantic movies a la Sense and Sensibility or Howard’s End. Throughout the feature, women in period costume slap their male counterparts at each and every turn and talk in the language and style of the times. The ’48-hour feature’ is intended to distract women while their errant male counterparts drink Bud Light.

These offerings come to us from Palmer Jarvis DDB Downtown associate CD team Dave Chiavegato and Rich Pryce-Jones. ‘What we reveal at the end is that it’s actually the Bud Light executives that are [doing this]. It’s a misdirect, we wanted it to be a very convincing epic movie trailer,’ says Chiavegato.

Asked if the model was perhaps wearing a little thin given Molson Ex’s similar focus on men getting away from their female partners, the CDs say that these are shortcuts to freeing time away from their responsibilities rather than freeing time from having to have sex.

‘It touches on that aspect of relationships, but the key insight is that guys have more responsibilities at this stage in their lives. I think it’s probably an older target we’re talking about, people who are settled down and are married. They may have kids and yearn for the days when they were able to go out with their friends and hang out,’ says Pryce-Jones.

Evidence that the ‘Let’s get away from our nagging wives’ model may be wearing a little thin lies in the ‘Locust’ spot. A husband is not allowed to go out with friends until he has cleaned the eavestrough. The Institute’s solution is to let loose a swarm of locusts to eat all the leaves on the tree in the front yard. Task completed, the husband is released from his penury and can now join the boys for more Bud Light. The locusts naturally attack everything in site, including a neighbour.

Asked if this campaign marks a redirection in terms of marketing strategy, Pryce-Jones says, ‘We’re trying to bring the notion of the Bud Light Institute to life. We didn’t want to get formulaic in the approach to the solutions to guy problems. A lot of brands will do that – they’ll hit on something that works and they will not deviate from it. They’ll get execution confused with what the real insight is which we didn’t want to do. Be true to the insights but keep the insights fresh.’

Reality Check

Pat Pirisi CD at TBWA/Chiat/Day says: ‘I think it’s a fun and irreverent and a nice way to sell beer.’ On the topic of whether the model is growing tired Parisi says, ‘It’s really an age old beer platform that is tried and true. A lot depends on making it interesting in a fresh and humorous way, which these do very well.’