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How Budweiser?s mobile flexibility keeps it at head of the pack

An analysis of Budweiser?s mobile strategy over several years shows the brewer to be a consistent leader, excelling at targeting and engaging millennials, the demographic that represents its best opportunity in the years ahead. 

A hallmark of the Anheuser-Busch brand shows its marketing campaigns to be streamlined across all platforms, from mobile to television to personal experience. The observations show how firms that go with the flow on mobile can maintain business success even as mobile itself changes shape.

?Budweiser is diversifying its marketing goals beyond a singular focus to drive product sales or app downloads, but to appeal to different segments of its audience through an integrated multi-channel approach,? said Esha Shah, manager of mobile and strategy at Fetch, a mobile marketing and advertising agency. ?They?ve moved beyond the linear marketing approach of driving actions and purchases from customers, but creating a brand energy built upon experience, intrigue and meaning that they?ve developed through various media channels.?

Budweiser could not be reached for comment.

Tapping texting
The St. Louis-based maker of the Budweiser and Bud Light beer brands, has been leveraging mobile communication to connect with audiences for years.

In July 2008, for instance, it tapped into mobile via a text-to-win sweepstakes. The brewer used agency Interactive Mediums' TextMe for Business mobile marketing platform to give consumers a chance to win free gas for a year. 

Putting its stamp on the Super Bowl.

Consumers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were asked to text BUD to 839863 to enter the "Gas Up and Go" SMS sweepstakes.

The text-messaging platform was seen as a more efficient, automated way to hold a sweepstakes as opposed to traditional means, Chris Watland, managing director of Interactive Mediums, Chicago, was quoted on Mobile Marketer.

The strategy could boost response rates and raise Anheuser-Busch's brand awareness by allowing it to interact with its customers, especially young drinkers, Mr. Watland said. It could catch customers' attention and, ultimately, get them to drink more beer.

Budweiser?s evolution in mobile marketing has followed the direction of mobile itself, growing from a technology that often featured more formal, formatted activities to more user-directed and managed programs increasingly with video at the forefront.

?We expect during 2015 to see more and more brands making aggressive use of video and YouTube as a platform to deliver that video,? said Patrick McKenna, CEO of Strike Social, an advertising technology firm. ?This is important for brands such as Budweiser that want to connect with millennials.

?Millennials are heavy consumers of YouTube video and a significant part of that is on mobile devices,? Mr. McKenna said. ?Today in the U.S. more than 50 million people watch video on their mobile phones, with 30 to 40 percent of consumers watching mobile video every day. 

?Mobile is ideal for coupling those videos with in-store coupons or other promotions, which brands such as Quiznos have done so effectively,? he said. ?We expect to see more of this by marketing leaders, like Budweiser, this year.? 

Budweiser is identified with the Super Bowl because of its high profile during the annual football showcase. 
Its campaigns often contain a seamless blending of mobile and engagement in a physical location that makes the brewer a provocative mobile marketer in the big beer vertical.

For instance, this year?s gridiron classic included Anheuser-Busch?s launch of the Bud Light Button, a beer delivery app that let users order Bud Light with a tap of the finger. 

In the AKQA-developed app, users scanned their credit card for repeat purchase. The app then tracked the user?s current location. Consumers could order between one to 100 cases of beer and get it delivered in under an hour by Klink, an alcohol delivery app that used independent retailers to fulfill deliveries.

Bud Light Button users could receive an extra ?Up For Whatever? experience with their delivery, designed to inspire spontaneous fun, such as Bud Light-branded gear.

?Their campaigns aren?t just direct response,? said Ms. Shah. ?Bud Light Whatever?s experiential marketing campaign transformed an entire town in Colorado into a 3-day party, which they then turned into commercials and a social media campaign.? 

In an Instagram video contest, Bud Light fans were asked to live the "Up For Whatever" messages found on new Bud Light bottles and join the brewer at the Bud Light House of Whatever at Super Bowl XLIX.

Consumers could enter for a chance through three steps on Instagram. First, they lived the #UpForWhatever message found on Bud Light bottles. Next, they uploaded their video to Instagram. In the final step, they tagged @budlight and add #UpForWhatever.  

Targeting millennials
Budweiser?s biggest opportunity is to continue to capture the millennial generation as it ages. 

Reaching younger drinkers on Instagram.

As it focuses on this all-important demographic, it has an opportunity to be creative and unique, devising marketing campaigns on ever-changing mobile and digital marketing platforms.

?Millennials grew up in the digital age always having mobile phones, so they will evolve with the digital landscape,? Ms. Shah said. ?Older generations who aren?t as tech savvy may not be as easily captured by digital marketing tactics, but millennials will continue to be receptive to the new, exciting and innovative forms of marketing that emerge with new technology and the Internet.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York