Anheuser-Busch’s latest campaign appears to reflect anxiety and excitement over America’s reopening

Everyone has their own memory of the era of the pandemic when they first felt society was coming back to life.

For Karl Lieberman, Executive Creative Director of Wieden + Kennedy, it was the last big winter snowstorm in Brooklyn. He and his wife were walking to buy take-out at a local restaurant when they spotted two guys in full snowsuits sitting outside drinking beer.

“I was like, oh boy, the second that time turns, everyone will be there,” he said. “If it’s such a strong need for people that they would be willing to endure to go see each other, it’s going to be huge.”

After all this time, will going out in public be like it was before?

This is a question that many Americans have asked themselves in recent weeks and months. Mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement are at the center of the next phase of Anheuser-Busch’s “Let’s Grab A Beer, America” ​​campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy, which debuted this week and features a series of vignettes showing people getting back together. again with family, friends and potential future lovers and without masks.

The new 60-second spot also comes just days after the brewing company pledged to buy every American adult a round of beer if the United States meets President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of the population vaccinated. nation before independence day. (As of last week, at least 51.9% had received at least one dose, while 42.6% were fully immunized.)

The campaign also includes outdoor advertising in major cities like Boston, Los Angeles and New York, where digital billboards will show real-time local vaccination rates against Covid-19. Lieberman says the New York City billboard, shaped like a beer bottle and located in Times Square, is inspired by the famous New Year’s Eve ball.

For Marcel Marcondes, Marketing Director of Anheuser Busch, two moments of normalcy spring to mind: when travel restrictions were lifted and he was finally able to see his parents, and then when he attended a meeting in no one with wholesalers after everyone has been vaccinated. He was one of many who felt the familiar awkwardness of not knowing whether people felt comfortable being close to each other, shaking hands, or even kissing after so long.

“That embrace and some of these scenes and situations depicted in the movie, I went through them and I feel all the emotions that we had there,” he says.

Anheuser-Busch isn’t the only brand in recent weeks to launch ads about getting back to normal. One ad from Uber winks at people leaving their messy homes to don masks and take turns, while another from EXTRA gum imagines the euphoria of a summer after separation. All are examples of the difficulties brands face in matching the tone of the moment while not exaggerating too early.

One of the tricky things about creating ads has been not knowing how to gauge what kind of mood people will be ready for on any given day. Amid the uncertainty, Marcondes and Lieberman had meetings with no agendas to talk about whatever is on their minds and that of consumers. Lieberman says one of those conversations revolved around focusing on anxiety in the ad, as opposed to the joy of meeting people again.

When the commercial was shot a few weeks ago, the team weren’t sure how the country would feel when it aired, according to Lieberman. Would it be better to focus more on the anxiety at the start, or the average tension of the trip or the joy at the end?

“We didn’t know where the country was going to be when we were done, but it was really great to be able to tell the whole story which was the beginning, the middle and the end,” he says. “We weren’t sure if it would be appropriate or if the country would still be ready to show people kissing, to show people in a bar. Because we were pretty quick and nimble, we followed what was going on in the real world.

Marcondes says her favorite character in the movie is a man named Simon, who in one scene trains to say his name in a mirror, only to meet a woman in a bar and accidentally introduce himself as “Salmon”. (A totally relatable slip after being forced to stay home for so long.)

“People are starting to do things again for the first time,” he says. “So it’s like the first kiss you never forget or the first hug or the first time you meet someone and those things you never forget just happen again… The other thing I found very interesting was some of the things you used to do, but after you stopped doing it for a long time you lose your mojo.even getting to know someone.

The campaigns may seem altruistic, but the beer giant is profiting from its initiatives. For example, the vaccine beer giveaway is managed through an Anheuser-Busch customer loyalty website, which collects user data that can then be used for future marketing if consumers choose receive messages. It’s also just one of many initiatives Anheuser-Busch launched last week, which follows a year of effort that began shortly after the pandemic itself engulfed the country. Earlier this spring, the company released an ad telling people how to drink safely with friends and put their masks on between sips. Soon after, he released a variety of brand specific campaigns. For example, Bud Light’s “Summer Stimmy” – a parody of real-life stimulus proposals – pledged $ 10 million for passes to sporting events and other tickets.

When asked how Anheuser-Busch is able to track the effectiveness of the campaign, the company cited a February 2021 survey that found that the Budweiser Bigger Picture campaign resulted in a 3.2% increase in likelihood that people get vaccinated after seeing the ad.

There is also the desire to bring people back to bars. Despite this anomalous year, Anheuser-Busch InBev said in its first quarter 2021 earnings call that beer volumes rose 15%, even surpassing pre-pandemic beer volumes by 2.8% from the first. quarter 2019.

“The more we deliver not only messages, but actions, the more relevant we become, the more people talk about what we do, the more we participate in the conversation and the better our business gets,” says Marcondes. . “But I think we have to take a stand. But we must focus on prioritizing the territories to which we naturally belong, to avoid being opportunistic. “

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