Looking to build on the success of Bud Light Lime, Anheuser-Busch this week is breaking an estimated $30 million campaign for Bud Light Golden Wheat, which also attempts to expand light beer drinkers’ palates.
The brewer, which started running teaser spots for the release a few weeks ago, will promote Golden Wheat on TV (sports, late night and several entertainment cable networks), the Web and in various lifestyle magazines. The outlay for the launch is roughly on par with what A-B spent introducing Lime last year. (In another signal that the launch has similar importance, the green room on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, which had been previously sponsored by Bud Light Lime, will be painted orange to match Golden Wheat’s hue.)
Keith Levy, vp-marketing at Anheuser-Busch Inc., said the new beer, which carries a sweet, slightly citrus taste, is aimed at trendsetting beer drinkers as well as the company’s core light beer target. Those drinkers might be looking for something a bit richer, he said. The launch isn’t aimed at the craft beer-loving aficionado crowd. “We’re not trying to out-craft craft beer,” he said. “This is for light beer drinkers who are seeking more flavor.” Thus, Golden Wheat’s tagline, “Light beer, huge flavor.”
Levy emphasized that unlike many of its ilk, Golden Wheat is still a light beer. “This should be the most drinkable wheat beer out there,” he added. “It’s more accessible. People should say, ‘That’s a brand I know.’ It’s a fun brand.”
To underscore that point, ads are playing on quirky aspects of the beer. Because Golden Wheat is unfiltered, some of its natural ingredients tend to settle at the bottom. One of the TV spots, via Palm + Havas, Montreal, features a bartender laying a bottle of the beer on its side to better agitate the beer’s natural yeast and even out distribution. Levy hopes that catches on: “It’s kind of fun for people to have these rituals with beer.”
Julie Bradford, editor of All About Beer magazine, said A-B is hitting a fertile niche. “We’ve been hearing that wheat beers overall could have a very big year,” she said. “Big brewers are realizing that the light character of these beers is very appealing to many beer drinkers. It’s got that refreshing quality.”
Matthew Taylor, consumer market analyst at Datamonitor, said beer companies like A-B have no choice but to innovate. “The beer market has been in decline for a number of years,” he said. “A lot of the beer companies are looking outside their core consumer bases. They’ve been one dimensional in the past. Now they are competing more with wine and spirits, more sophisticated tastes.”