CASSIES Gold: Budweiser’s fan brew

The brewer crafts celebratory suds for the Winnipeg Jets’ return and gets national mileage.

GOLD: Events, Seasonal & Short-Term

Situation Analysis There hadn’t been a National Hockey League team in Manitoba since the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996. This meant only NHL games from other markets (most with rival Molson Coors’ sponsorship) were on TV. In October 2011, the Jets returned to Winnipeg and Budweiser successfully bid for the local sponsorship rights. A great victory, but NHL rules limited team activation to a 75 km radius surrounding the home arena. So how could Budweiser sell enough beer to pay for this local sponsorship?

Strategy & Insight Budweiser needed an activation that was extraordinarily local but would also break through across Canada. The return of the Jets was a triumph for a city that had lost one of its most treasured institutions. From this came the idea to make a hero out of the local water. Samples were taken from the three rivers surrounding Winnipeg, put into glass vessels and toured around the city. In a grand ceremony, team president Jim Ludlow poured some onto centre ice prior to the opening face-off of the Jets’ first home game. The rest was shipped to Budweiser to become the limited-edition Winnipeg Jets Fan Brew.

Execution The Fan Brew was launched at the Jets’ arena last March along with a Pride of Winnipeg documentary. Sponsorship restrictions prevented the doc from appearing on TV, but it lived online and the moving story spread across Canada via news outlets and word of mouth.

Results Before Fan Brew hit the market, Winnipeggers lined up outside liquor stores to get their hands on the 12-can pack. Many stores sold out in less than 24 hours, with cases subsequently going for upwards of $300 on eBay. There were 24,000 cases of Fan Brew made, which was about 10% of typical volume. However, overall Budweiser sales in March rose 15% from a year earlier. Fan Brew didn’t have the temporary effect of the average sales promotion. Preference for Budweiser across the Prairies grew 1.5 percentage points in March and has stayed there. Far from being restricted to the 684,100 residents of Winnipeg, the story was seen more than nine million times by fans across Canada.

Cause & Effect Sales rose immediately following the launch and there was no additional regional or national Budweiser advertising compared with the year before. Price was not a factor, as Fan Brew was priced at only a small premium.


Client: Budweiser
VP of marketing: Jorn Socquet
Marketing director: Kyle Norrington
Marketing managers: Ben Seaton, Andrew Oosterhuis
Agency: Anomaly
ECD: Mike Byrne
CDs: Paul Renner, Derek Barnes
AD: Grant Mason
Copywriter: Jessica Ghersi
Producer: John Legere
Business director: Jason DeLand
Account director: Derek McCarty
Directors: Jon Weiman, Torey Kohara