It appears so.
The brand has received TTB approval for no fewer than 25 labels that once again prominently feature the colors and logos of National Football League teams. The cans also include team-appropriate taglines, such as “Faithful Since ‘46” for the San Francisco 49ers or “Who Dey” for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The labels are similar to the team-centric packaging Bud Light rolled out last year. The question is whether it will help improve fortunes for Bud Light.
When Anheuser-Busch InBev became an official NFL sponsor in 2011, it expressed confidence that the alliance would help turn around Bud Light. ABI CEO Carlos Brito was bullish during an earnings call at the time, as reported by AdWeek:
“Bud Light . . . has 21 percent of the market share in the U.S.,” Brito said. “We think [with the NFL deal] we can do even better.”
It hasn’t worked out that way. Bud Light volume declined once again in 2016 and it has lost nearly 7 million barrels since its peak in 2008, Beer Marketer’s Insights reported earlier this year. Its share now stands at about 16.4 percent, per BMI.
And since 2011, U.S. marketing leadership has been a revolving door. Longtime marketing hand Keith Levy left at the beginning of 2011. Paul Chibe took the mantle later that year, but departed in 2014 amid what Advertising Age called “mixed reviews.” He was replaced by Jorn Socquet, who had been VP-marketing in Canada. Socquet took a global role in October 2016 and was succeeded by Marcel Marcondes.
Along the way, the brand has cycled through a number of campaigns, including “The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens” and “Bud Light Party” that, as noted by Ad Age (among others), did not go over well with distributors. The brand’s current effort is “Famous Among Friends.”
One of the first moves by Marcondes was to name 37-year AB vet Andy Goeler as VP for Bud Light. Goeler, who ran Bud Light during the 1990s and was involved in the “Real Men of Genius’ campaign, shared his approach with Ad Age:
“The beer business is about fun, it is about friends, it’s about getting together. And it doesn’t need to be that complicated.”
There has been a great deal of speculation about what direction Goeler will take Bud Light.
But for now it appears NFL cans are on the agenda.