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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bud Light Platinum: Where Taste and Common Sense Don't Meet

Budweiser has contributed a lot to the marketing extravaganza that is the Super Bowl. Let's face it. The folks at Anheuser-Busch/InBev have a lot of cash to throw at advertising messages and campaigns. Advertising is their lifeblood, and an example of how spending a lot of money can keep consumers buying a flawed product.

Who can forget the marketing genius of the infamous Bud Bowl promotion? It had an eight-year run, 1989-1997. Bottles of beer with football helmets butting heads. Very popular. I always thought the Bud Bowls were first rate idiocy, an affront to the intelligence of football fans.


In spite of their ad budgets and ingenious campaigns, Bud and the other big boy macros have been losing market share. The downturn has been well-documented on this blog and elsewhere. Some big boy brand segments are in free fall, seeing 30-72 percent sales declines between 2006 and 2010. Ye gods!

The one brand segment that keeps them afloat is light beer. Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite don't show up on the list of declining brand segments. Americans continue to suck up light beers, while steering away from old standards like original Budweiser, Miller and Coors.

Of course, some of the loss of big boy market share can be attributed to craft beer. The craft segment is small, but growing, and has essentially chipped away at the middle and top of the macro brands. Budweiser can no longer position Bud and Michelob as premium beers. Consumers are looking elsewhere.

Available now, just in time for the big game!

Anheuser-Busch's response to this reality is to expand their light beer segment, which they have done with Bud Light with Lime, Bud Select and others. These forays have seen limited success. Bud Select was a monumental flop. But onward they come, chasing the days when they dominated the beer market.

And so it is that they have released a new 'light" beer to coincide with the Super Bowl. We will almost certainly see this product advertised during the game. The beer is Bud Light Platinum. It comes is a flashy blue bottle and is nominally a light beer. But at 6% ABV, you wonder how it fits into the "light" category. Hmmmm.

If the marketing gurus at AB think increasing the alcohol content of Bud Light will help them steal back consumers who have switched to craft beer, I think they're chasing their tails. But maybe they are on to something. Perhaps they have additional exciting ideas up their sleeves:
  • Bourbon Barrel-aged Bud Light Platinum
  • Bud Light Platinum in a 750 ml bottle with a wax dipped cap
  • Imperial Bud Light Platinum
  • Cask-conditioned Bud Light Platinum
  • Special release Bud Light Platinum for the Oregon Brewers Festival
Anyway, be sure to watch for the BL Platinum ads during the game. But make sure your Super Bowl party cooler is well-stocked with craft beer.
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Update: Stltoday.com has a nice review of what AB/InBev has in mind with Bud Light Platinum. They essentially say they're going after a "higher end, more sophisticated" consumer. Too bad the packaging and ad campaign are where the money is being spent. Maybe one of these days AB/InBev will invest in making quality beer. Oh, in case you were wondering, we'll be seeing two (apparently) 30-second ads for Bud Light Platinum during the Super Bowl. The cost: $3.5 million each. 

2 comments:

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  2. http://beerpulse.com/2012/04/anheuser-busch-bounces-back-in-first-quarter-on-strong-bud-light-platinum-launch/

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