Budweiser ups the ante on its NHL playoff campaign

The brewer keeps its ties to hockey strong by promising to buy a round for fans of the Canadian team that makes it the farthest.

Budweiser is raising the stakes on a campaign it launched earlier this year by announcing it will gift beers to the city that prevails in the NHL’s North Division.

At the start of the season, Budweiser promised it would send its 20-foot Red Light – a longtime fixture of the brand’s sports marketing – to the city that won the NHL’s North Division championship with its “King of the North” promotion.

Now, the brewer has further capitalized on the fan interest generated by an all-Canadian division by adding a new stipulation with “This Bud is On Us.” Whichever of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets make it the farthest in the playoffs will also win residents of their city of legal drinking a “first round” on Budweiser to help celebrate the success, provided in the form of a $5 gift card.

“It’s been a tough year for Canadians and for sports fans having to watch alone in their households. We wanted to double down, and we thought this would be a nice way to get people to cheer on their favourite teams,” says Mike D’Agostini, senior director of marketing for Budweiser.

But this isn’t just making the best of a bad situation, he says. The promotion is “an opportunity to tap in and talk to fans who have had a tough go.”

“I don’t see this as the second-best thing,” he says, referring to the fact that fans are still unable to watch games in person, or with friends at their local sports bar. “I see it as a great way to celebrate and elevate the viewing experience of the fans at home and to put a little bit of skin in the game so there’ll be an added element to what is already a very exciting playoff.”

The beer brand has had a relationship with hockey for almost a decade, and D’Agostini said that even though arenas have been closed and the season itself has been shortened, the NHL partnership remains a vital part of Budweiser’s marketing strategy.

“Hockey is still Canada’s number one sport. As Canada’s number one beer, we want to tackle and tap into a passion point that really is in the hearts and minds of Canadians across the country,” he explains.