Tag Archives: bud light


I have read several somewhat hysterical articles recently about Bud Light and its advertising and why it’s to blame for the brand’s recent sales decrease.

And of course, the laptop quarterbacks are quick to pooh-pooh and diss Bud Light’s advertising for being “juvenile” and “sophomoric”, like that’s automatically a bad thing.

“Sophisticated” beer advertising is what closes on Saturday night guys.

I’m not saying beer advertising has to be oafish or aggressively stupid, as so much of the category is of late, but we are talking beer here. And the audience is primarily young guys. Not Proust scholars.

One of the biggest mistakes ad folks can make in beer advertising is to create advertising aimed at themselves.

I’m not sure how to break this to you, but you are old. And the target market for beer is young. Juvenile almost.

People get set in their ways fast when it comes to alcohol. Everyone has their own, frequently wacky, reasons why they drink what they drink.

With beer advertising you are only talking to those who are still open to suggestion.

And let’s not forget that this juvenile style of advertising is what built the brand to being the NUMBER ONE BRAND OF BEER IN AMERICA. A nice problem to have.

When I worked on the brand it experienced phenomenal growth. Double digit increases year on year for more than a decade. Bud Light was a juggernaut.

Ironically, in my opinion, some of the ground the beer category lost to spirits was inadvertently the very result of the success of light beer.

All through the ’80s/’90s and into the ’00s, the drumbeat of beer advertising was essentially “less calories=better. calories=bad”.

And then along came a generation that essentially said “you know what mr. brewery dude, you are right. I think I’ll have a ketel one on the rocks with soda and a lime!”

(Nothing juvenile about this classic)

Bud Light is up for review

Just read that Bud Light is up for review after 28 years at incumbent DDB Chicago.

I worked on that brand for two years at DDB in the mid 90s.

It was great fun to work on but it was made difficult by the brand having the stone age strategy of “what would you do for a Bud Light?”.

Everything you thought of and idea you had was immediately met with an “oh we did that three/five/seven years ago!” reaction.

Or, “the brewery doesn’t like spots with epileptic penguins”.

So it could be a mind-bendingly difficult assignment to come up with anything fresh for. A real head scratcher.

But the good thing was I was being paid to do this and had nothing else to occupy my time.

Plus, I was insanely bent on producing a famous funny beer spot. That helped too.

Also, the brand had experienced double digit growth every year for 12 years. So the client was unusually receptive to crazy ideas.

Working on Bud Light was a great training ground for a lot of creatives, myself included.

They had a monstrous media budget and the production budgets weren’t too bad either. I was also keen to take advantage of that. And did!

If you did a Bud Light spot the whole country would know about it. This prospect would frequently cause me to wet myself.

DDB Chicago did a stellar job on Budweiser Light, as it was initially named, over the years.

It’s one of the all time great marketing success stories.

So a hearty WELL DONE! to veteran Chicago DDB-ers JT Mapel and Mark Gross and Chuck Rachford and (you know he’ll sulk if i don’t mention him) Chris Roe!

I don’t know how you guys did it, year after year after year.

After year.

And well done to everyone else who nearly shat themselves with terror on a Sunday night because the latest Bud Light Superbowl scripts were due Monday morning.

And you’d heard Goodby were rumored to be in the frame on this one.

And the pressure was really on this time.

No,seriously guys! This is really serious this time!

And Bob Lachky has a verucca.


It was like Vietnam.

If you weren’t there you just can’t understand maaaaaaan!!!

Learn from the, ahem, real man of genius.

Just found these the other day.

It’s an interview with Bob Lachky, former head of advertising at Anheuser Busch. The guy to whom we used to present our ideas for Budweiser and Bud Light when I worked on those brands.

He’s the guy who approved such pop culture advertising classics these gems.

YES I AM for Bud Light.

I LOVE YOU MAN for Bud Light.



And my personal favorite…

As you’ll see, Bob should run for US Senate. He would win in a landslide.

Instead he chose to oversee the creation of some of the best advertising in the world.

Bob and his colleagues really understood their business and the advertising business and the media in general.

So perhaps more credit than I’d like to admit should go to Bob and the guys at A-B for their role in creating some really great advertising over the years.

More than once he made a call about something in one of my ads that I only realized later was of critical importance.

The story that many people, including many in the media, wanted to believe was how hard it was to sell our brilliant ideas to that stupid enormous beer client.

And nothing could have been further from the truth. They were the center of excellence. Not us.

As you’ll see.

Everyone interested in advertising, marketing and the media should watch this four part masterclass.

What the hell happened to beer advertising in the USA?

Beer advertising should be fun because the product itself is the very embodiment of fun. Beer advertising is how beer brands make new friends. So why are all the beer ads so excruciatingly dull all of a sudden? Miller Lite, Coors and Bud Light now all seem to think that beer is a rational purchase. Beer is not a rational purchase. And thinking it is makes for painfully boring and stilted communications. Instead of a joke and a wink from the class funny guy, we are getting science lectures from geeks about boring stuff like bottle caps. Stop it!

[i was going to embed some examples of these commercials. but then i thought why would i do that?]


How to sell alcoholic drinks

The recent revivification of Wassup! has made me nostalgic for my beer advertising days. I, and several other Escape Podders spent years working in that category. Personally I loved it. And not just because I got to drink a lot of free beer. OK, that was part of it, but it was also great fun selling fun. And on a big scale. For many years Superbowl season – half the year basically – was our focus. Win the Superbowl! At all costs!

I was also attracted to working in the category because I’m good at it and I know that i’m good at it. How do I know I’m good at it? I spent my formative years working in a very busy pub in Ireland. And in that time I got to learn a a huge lesson first-hand: you have to create the right environment, the one that induces drinking. that’s the whole trick.

For example, the pub i worked in had carpeting everywhere. just like your house does. it had comfortable seating. just like your house does. but your house doesn’t have a bar in it. and it’s probably cold and windy and raining outside anyway. so staying in the pub wins, going home to your house loses!

But the interesting thing about the pub – The Lion’s Tower, so named because it stood near a tower of the same name in the old medieval city wall – was that it started out as a terrible pub.

The owners had a vision of the kind of bar they themselves would like to drink in. And that vision was upscale. The bartenders wore waistcoats and bow ties initially. Inoffensive muzak played quietly in the background. And it worked. The pub attracted people like the owners. Middle aged middle class couples out for a drink to get away from the kids. The only problem was they drank f**k all. maybe six drinks between the two of them all night. and as you can imagine, it was crushingly boring to work there. there was no action.

After a couple of excruciating and not very profitable years like this, it dawned on the owners that young Irish people drank a hell of a lot more than their parents. Ireland had inherited England’s stupid World War One licensing laws. all pubs shut before midnight. consequently people (young irish people!) were drinking against the clock. and boy could they drink! it was pure insanity.

so out went the bow ties and waistcoats. and in came much better and much louder music and cool lighting. same comfy furnishings. and boom! the place went nuts. the legal drinking age was 18. but it was loosely enforced. suddenly, we had to hire bouncers to keep order. the scent of your dad’s cologne was replaced by the occasional pungent whiff of hash. we were selling hundreds of kegs of beer a week. we would get through a hundred kegs of guinness alone. each keg with ninety pints in it. 100 x 90 = 9000 pints of guinness alone each week. one year we went through ten thousand pounds worth of pint glasses alone. this was back in the ’80s. that was a lot of money and a mind-boggling amount of broken pint glasses.

This place was hopping like I’ve never seen since. you’d think we were giving it away. there were two bars in the pub. A straight up long bar against a wall and an oval bar. I favored working the oval bar. because the place was so packed it felt like you were on stage. Everyone desperately vying for your attention. and we were the fastest bartenders in town. to this day it irks me to see a bartender take just one customer’s order at a time. we would do three orders at a time and fill them at the same time in the most efficient manner possible. to stay hydrated we drank southern comfort and coke.

And because I was in my teens, and it kind of happened in slow motion, over years, it made a huge impression on me. we went from being a dead ghost town to being the biggest hit pub in a town with a lot of really great pubs. For example, there was a pub down the road called “The King’s Head”. It was the oldest pub in town. It got its name because the original owner was the guy who actually chopped King Charles III’s head off. That pub, and exile to ireland, was the executioner’s reward. Hence the name. There are lots of English pubs that have that same name. but this pub earned it the hard way. by chopping off a king’s head. that’s hardcore good pub heritage. that’s tough to compete with.

Soooooooooooo…years later, when i finally got the chance to do a tv ad for beer, i came preloaded with the real-world knowledge of what it takes to sell a lot of beer: you create the right vibe, it happens.

Maybe not unsurprisingly, the very first bud light commercial i created was a big hit — no bow ties or waistcoats to be seen! and it was named best beer spot of the year by Ad Age. i was back selling beer again. albeit on a much bigger scale than The Lion’s Tower. and the Lion’s Tower was a very busy pub. so that’s really saying something.