Unexpected Brands Are Playing in Health – What We Can Learn 

Every year, viewers watch the Big Game waiting to see not only which team will win, but which brand will release the next iconic commercial. Advertisers study these commercials, consumers rave about them and brands pay millions of dollars for them. Over the years, these commercials have become almost as popular as the game itself.

But this year isn’t like other years. 2020 changed how we work, how we interact and it will change how we watch the Big Game in 2021. In a year unlike any others, one brand made a particularly bold move that took the media by surprise. Budweiser announced that for the first time in 37 years, they will donate their commercial spend to The Ad Council, in support of a PSA focused on the coronavirus vaccine, in lieu of an in-game spot. The result was praise from consumers and media alike for making an excellent choice.

So what can we, as healthcare communicators, learn from an unexpected brand playing in the health space? Let’s take a look.

1. Timing is everything 

Think about it. If Budweiser had made this same announcement one year earlier, would it have had the same impact…or even made sense? Probably not. At the same time, think about when they made this announcement. It’s probably safe to assume the decision to pull their commercial was made several months ago, but by waiting until January 25th, they ensured there was excitement for the Big Game (final teams had been selected) and key events had passed (the Inauguration). For brands, this means it’s not just about content, it’s also about timing. 

2. Commitment = Continued Action

Anheuser Busch’s CSR slogan is “Bringing People Together For a Better World,” which this announcement embodies by driving people to get vaccinated so they can gather together again. Additionally, this isn’t the first time Budweiser has made an announcement for the betterment of communities. Take for example their donations of drinking water during times of natural disaster. It’s easy to believe A-B’s slogan because there is a pattern of behavior. In the age of soundbites, it’s reassuring to see a company behave in a way that is consistent with its stated core values and proves that authenticity matters. For brands and communicators, this sets an example and reminds us to keep our core values in mind. 

3. Don’t be afraid to break tradition

Budweiser has been doing commercials for the Big Game for nearly four decades and is responsible for some of the most memorable stories (remember the puppy and the Clydesdales?). But it was their willingness to change and break with tradition to serve a greater purpose that turned heads. In fact, they turned more heads through earned than they would have with a 30-second ad spot. At a time when there is so much disruption, it’s important to think of creative ways to tell a story that brings awareness to topics and generates credibility for the brand. 

What are your takeaways from hearing this news? We’d love to hear your thoughts!