- Anheuser-Busch beer brand Natural Light announced it will host a virtual college commencement ceremony on Facebook Live to celebrate graduates around the world, the company shared with Marketing Dive.
- The virtual event will be hosted by actress and activist Amanda Cerny, and will feature speakers including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actress Jane Lynch, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith and Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini.
- The event will take place on Natural Light's Facebook page on Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m. ET. Graduating seniors are encouraged to sign up to have their name featured during the event at a branded commencement microsite.
Natural Light's virtual commencement aims to boost spirits at a time when most college graduation ceremonies across the country have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The effort comes as marketers from numerous industries are scrambling to salvage marketing campaigns built around in-person experiences by pivoting to digital and mobile efforts.
Because the global outbreak has caused the shuttering of most public gathering spaces for the time being, the health crisis is depriving college seniors of celebrating their successes with family and friends, and Natural Light is attempting to make up for those losses while drumming up brand awareness among its core college-aged consumers. By providing this experience to young consumers during a difficult time, the brand could build good will and position itself in a positive light to help it nurture a loyal following of beer drinkers in the future.
Natural Light in recent years has narrowed its marketing focus to reach college students. In February, the brand ran its third annual campaign promoting the Natty Light College Debt Relief Program, an effort that gives $1 million in debt relief each year to help college students pay back student loan debt. The brand in January kicked off a campaign offering free beer to anyone who turned 21 by rebating their purchase at a special website. Consumers were encouraged to share photos on social media of themselves drinking the brew on their 21st birthday. Customers could submit a scanned image of their purchase receipt to prove they're old enough to claim their free can.
Similarly, the Anheuser-Busch brand created a YouTube campaign to find its summer intern last year. The company's brand manager starred in a humorous video calling on new college graduates to apply, a move that aimed to spur user-generated content and fan participation.