Why You Won’t Hear ‘Dilly Dilly’ in Bud Light’s Newest Dilly Dilly Ad

Marketing vp says the brand's building a world, not a tagline

The Bud Knight seizes his moment in Bud Light's newest ad. Bud Light
Headshot of David Griner

Bud Light’s newest medieval ad has a lot going on, introducing some truly insufferable new nobles from a neighboring kingdom and putting the Bud Knight back on the battlefield for the first time since the Super Bowl.

But there’s one thing you won’t find in the ad: “Dilly Dilly.”

The spot debuting today, called “A Royal Affair,” continues to build on the year-old campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York, which turned the shout of “Dilly Dilly” into a cultural phenomenon.

Like the campaign’s World Cup ad featuring the Spanish-speaking Oracle Susana, the new spot expands the Dillyverse by introducing Count and Countess Pamplemousse, annoying aristocrats who seem to be itching for a guillotine.

But this time, the ad notably omits any shouts of “Dilly Dilly,” highlighting that Bud Light is being careful not to overuse the catchphrase.

“‘Dilly Dilly’ is going to be part of everything we do moving forward, but it’s not going to be front and center every time,” Bud Light marketing vp Andy Goeler told Adweek. “We’re being careful not to burn it out.”

The campaign is “definitely broader than ‘Dilly Dilly,'” Goeler said. “It’s the characters and just the ability to create a lot of fun and a brand message that people enjoy. It’s definitely got staying power. It’s permeated culture at such an amazing level.”

The new spot is part of a recent series with the tagline, “For the many, not the few.” That’s a sentiment that’s always been at the core of the Dilly Dilly campaign, whose first spot, “Banquet,” was based on the idea that bringing your favorite niche drink (Sir Doug’s “spiced honey mead wine that I’ve really been into lately”) to a party can be a jerk move when you could have brought a beer everyone will enjoy.

“If you bring a Bud Light, it’s all about sociability and friendship, having fun,” Goeler said. “It’s really been the insight from the beginning, about Bud Light being the beer of the kingdom, of the people. This whole approach is more about what Bud Light is and not what Bud Light isn’t.”

The tagline rolled out recently with a spot called “Bud Lights for Everyone,” which was a pretty direct callback to the Dilly Dilly campaign’s first ad (though this time, the king is flanked by the imposing Bud Knight).

Of course, populism aside, Bud Light has another strategic goal with its campaign about mass appeal.

Since 2010, the number of microbreweries and regional brewers in America has grown an astounding 684 percent—from from 512 companies in the category to 4,014 in 2017, according to the Brewers Association.

Goeler acknowledged that so many options for beer consumers can create a challenge for Bud Light, which is by far the No. 1 selling beer in the country, with a market share nearly twice as large as that of competitor Coors Light and total sales that surpass Coors Light and Miller Lite put together.

“As a beer person, it’s exciting. It does bring a lot of interest and excitement to the beer industry, and I’ve been in the beer industry for 38 years. I love beer and I love to hear people talking about beer,” Goeler explained. “But from a Bud Light perspective, we are the ones who get affected the most by all those different breweries opening up, so therefore I have to defend and let people know what we are as a brand and what we stand for.”

Perhaps thanks to his long career in the beer category—all 38 years spent at Anheuser-Busch (now AB-InBev)—Goeler sees the rare and highly sought-after value of a campaign like Dilly Dilly, one that sparks a new catchphrase and consistently generates headlines, such as when yelling “Dilly Dilly” was banned at the Masters.

“It’s rare, and I will tell you that it’s getting harder and harder,” Goeler says of such high-profile and memorable campaigns. “I’ve seen a few of these, like the Whassup campaign and Real Men of Genius, which is another that really permeated culture. I’ve seen these in earlier times, but now, today, the content moves at such a  fast pace, and there’s so much competition for share of mind.”


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."