- AB InBev brand Bud Light is installing the "Bud Light Showtime Cam" in NFL stadiums throughout the football season to celebrate key moments during games, according to a press release. The camera and flat-screen TV installation showcases players and fans celebrating their favorite teams and the game of football.
- On Twitter, NFL fans can tag their tweets with the #ShowtimeCam and #BudLightSweepstakes hashtags for a chance to participate in the Showtime Cam during one regular season game. Bud Light will select one winner a week among eligible Twitter users between Sept. 11 and Jan. 1, per the contest rules.
- Bud Light is sponsoring the interactive experience for football fans who won't be able to attend NFL games this season because of restrictions on live events during the coronavirus pandemic. The first Showtime Cam will debut during the NFL's opening game between Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on Sept. 10.
Brands like Bud Light that typically invest heavily in sponsoring major sporting events are now forced to consider new ways to engage fans as the NFL season gears up and many stadiums are closed to attendees because of the coronavirus. With consumers stuck at home, Bud Light's "Showtime Cam" is an attempt to recreate some of the excitement that comes from sitting in a stadium with thousands of cheering fans by using Twitter and an in-stadium digital screen to give football fans a way to interact with their favorite NFL teams and players while watching games.
By hosting a social media sweepstakes to participate in the digital fan experience, Bud Light can reach a broader audience of fans who tweet their contest entries among their friends and followers and urge others to participate. Sponsoring the interactive experience can help Bud Light to foster positive feelings toward its brand while engaging sports fans with a unique experience.
The NFL provides a major promotional platform for brands like Bud Light during the regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl, the most-watched live event on TV. However, with coronavirus infection rates still on the rise in some areas, the stakes are high to complete the current season without further disruptions and to avoid having to cut or pivot their marketing programs, like many brands were forced to do in the spring. The NFL last year finished its regular season with 47 of the top 50 telecasts, per Nielsen data cited by CNBC, giving its sponsors broad reach on linear TV. Advertisers spent $5 billion on the NFL last year, per Kantar data cited by The Wall Street Journal.
This week's start of the NFL's regular season will be a key test for the league and its sponsors, given the possibility of additional disruptions from the pandemic. The league is taking efforts to protect players, coaches and team staff from infection, a key concern for a high-contact sport like football. However, other sports leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLB have demonstrated it's possible to host live games while taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Bud Light's campaign resembles one from sister brand Michelob Ultra, which is also owned by AB InBev, to engage sports fans with a virtual experience of attending a live game. In July, Michelob Ultra started its sponsorship as the official beer brand of the NBA with a digital experience that showed 300 fans "attending" the games on giant videoconferencing screens. The brand collaborated with software company Microsoft on the experience and ran an online contest to give fans a chance to win virtual courtside seats.
Bud Light's campaign is the brand's latest effort to connect with sports fans through digital media, an approach more brands could take this year as the pandemic's impact continues. During the NFL draft of college players in April, the beer brand asked football fans to uphold a tradition of booing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by posting videos of themselves expressing their displeasure on Twitter. Bud Light donated $1 to the NFL Draft-a-Thon, which raised money for pandemic relief, every time someone tweeted a video with the #BooTheCommish hashtag. Before that, Bud Light revamped its marketing to include an effort to help consumers find local bars and restaurants that remained open for takeout orders during lockdowns.