I have the pleasure of sitting next to Shane Knight, a Veteran of the War in Iraq. Shane is from Texas, a great Art Director and great to get a different view on things. We were talking about this limited edition Bud Flag can and I think it is an interesting prop in several different stories to live by.
At first glance I thought this was an excellent idea. One of Budweiser’s core brand associations is its American-ness and this can is a great reminder of that. After seeing this can anyone would say “That reminds me that Bud is the American beer.” I’m sure a lot of domestic drinkers like to “live” a story in which they support America and American workers by purchasing American products or prefer “good home beer” from the States. The can debuted on Memorial Day and A-B is launching a nationwide happy-hour event on Flag Day to promote its new veteran fundraising program.
(As an aside, marketers have questioned the ability for A-B to do this kind of marketing post sale to South African beverage co. InBev. Read more about it here.)
(Updating my error. A-B is owned by InBev who is headquartered in Belgium and run by Brazilians.)
Speaking with Shane though one aspect of this marketing idea didn’t sit well with me: The launching of the can on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day has always been a strange story for me.
One one hand it represents the start of summer (and for Bud that’s an obvious kick-off to an occasion with which they would like to be associated with – lots of volume). Memorial Day equals BBQs, backyard drinking and lots of parties under the sun.
On the other it is the most somber of National holidays. Memorial Day equals the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery and a day on which we should not party.
It sounds like the whole program is grounded in Bud’s new fundraising program for Vets. I’d like to know more about it (googling it did no good – shame on you A-B). Will funds go to the families who have lost a Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Son or Daughter too?
Honoring Veterans is a good idea. It is “on brand” for them (a newly defined role in society that syncs with and scales the “This Bud’s For You” sentiment). It feels more real to me. I can envision Vets getting together and re-connecting. I can see people buying a Vet a Bud. No doubt some Vets will get together over a Bud to remember fallen friends but that story doesn’t seem to be the dominant one here.
Isn’t this effort a better fit for Veteran’s Day? Logically yes. But you can just hear the meeting in St. Louis, “Veteran’s Day is in November. We need a summer promotion.”
Net net I wouldn’t have launched it on Memorial Day. Despite the fact that Americans use Memorial Day as a ritualistic day of drinking and BBQs, as a brand manager I’d pass and launch it just after. Honoring our fallen Heroes isn’t a marketing opportunity (even if it presents itself as one). I’d launch it right after. They still would be a part of the summer party. I’d still do the Vet fundraising program. But I’d make sure it benefitted both Vets and the families of those who’ve been killed in action.
Where do you come out on this one?