Are you #UpForWhatever with Bud Light?

kblack12    June 11, 2015

Title of Post: Are you #UpForWhatever with Bud Light?

Company: Anheuser-Busch: Bud Light

budlightw-e_0 cover






Industry: Alcoholic Beverages/Beer

Bud Light Vice President: Alex Lambrecht 

Web references: UpForWhateverChicago TribuneAnheuser-BuschForbesMixCloudAdWeekEventMarketer; Whatever, USATheFutureCastBusinessInsider

The Reinvention of Bud Light

With diminishing sales and an aging target market, Bud Light knew that they needed to do something unique to engage Bud Light drinkers of today.  In a bold move they shifted gears entirely and set their sights on a new audience: millennials (ages 21-27).

Bud Light needed a new message and strategy to engage and really connect with their new audience.  With the help of Mosaic, a Chicago based experiential marketing firm and ad agency Energy BBDO, they created the #UpForWhatever experienced-based campaign, inviting millennials to go on an adventure with the brand. A new tagline was also developed “the perfect beer for whatever happens”, reinventing Bud Light drinkers as #UpForWhatever, spontaneous and fun.

Bud Light was counting on this campaign and new tagline to win over millennials and reverse a continued sales decline resulting from the rising popularity of craft beers and sweet cocktails.

The launch of the #UpForWhatever Campaign

Forget out of the box thinking, they smashed the box on this one by turning this once in a lifetime consumer experience into a commercial and launching it during the 2014 Super Bowl.  This was the kick off to the #UpForWhatever campaign targeting millennials.

Bud Light Commercial Released during the 2014 Superbowl launching the #UpForWhatever campaign (created by Energy BBDO)

Within seconds of the ad being released Twitter went crazy with millennials across the USA hitting the hashtag #UpForWhatever, to let Bud Light know they were game.  It didn’t end there…Mosaic was standing by to turn those social hand raisers into real-time content feeds—by first reverse-engineering their tweets to locate them and then serving up live experiences that could be captured and uploaded to Bud Light’s YouTube channel.

#UpForWhatever Experiences

Bud Light continued to execute tens of thousands #UpForWhatever experiences over the course of the summer leading up to Whatever, USA. Creating fun, spontaneous and memorable customer engagements with millennials.  Through these “up for whatever” moments Bud Light built stronger connections than ever before with their customers  and created memories that would last a lifetime.

“According to Suzanne Fanning, President of Word of Mouth Marketing Association, “Millennials are the most connected generation of buyers the world has ever seen, but they don’t trust companies or CEOs – they trust their friends and connections, and they want to hear about real experiences from real people. Make sure they are happy, satisfied customers, and provide easy ways for them to share.”  – Forbes

About Whatever, USA

If you haven’t been wowed up to this point, then you’re about to be now. Next, Bud Light transformed the town, Crested Butte Colorado, into one of the most desired destinations for millennials in the United States, Whatever, USA. They actually painted the streets blue and re-branded the stores with Bud Light and Whatever, USA fixtures.  The streets were filled with wandering llamas, hot tubs, giant gold chain wearing gorillas, famous DJ’s, musicians, celebrities, the world’s biggest boom box, crazy #UpForWhatever activities, plenty of food and of course, Bud Light!

bud-light-whatever-usa-final-ls-5 gorilla

As Bud Light’s most successful event in 2014, Whatever, USA brought the brand’s #UpForWhatever campaign to life with an epic three-day celebration of spontaneous fun, unique adventures and incredible concerts that transformed Crested Butte, CO, into Whatever, USA.”

Customer Engagement through Social Media

Bud Light called out to millennials to submit a 15 second audition for Whatever, USA to prove they’re #UpForWhatever to win a weekend away in Whatever, USA.

Bud Light fans 21 and older wanting to participate in the epic Whatever-filled weekend could visit Bud Light’s FacebookTwitter or Instagram pages and submit a 15 second video for a chance to win a trip to Whatever, USA. Visit to check out highlights from last year’s Whatever, USA, and to find the official rules.

Thousands of young adults submitted audition videos to the Up for Whatever Youtube page with the hope of being selected to attend the event.  The hashtag #upforwhatever littered Facebook and TwitterTWTR -1.59% news feeds and still has a strong presence.


Whatever, USA Winners


500 lucky winners were chosen to attend a FREE weekend getaway to Whatever, USA.  The winners were told in quirky ways, some with only ten hours to get their stuff together, grab a friend and hop on a Bud Light private jet, to be taken to a secret location with minimal details. Living up to the message: #UpForWhatever!

Winners were selected based on their personality, passion, social network and influence power. They had large social networks and were predisposed to share, they just needed something to share. Which is why Bud Light didn’t create Whatever, USA for the 1,000 attendees, it created it for the rest of the world that would tune into the content those 1,000 people posted. If provided the right experiences, those 1,000 attendees would feed Whatever, USA content to tens of millions of others.


Sites & Sounds of Whatever, USA – An #UpForWhatever Weekend

DJ Ekin’s #UpForWhatever powered by #BudLight!

Business Impact

1. Bud Light wins 2015 Grand Ex Award

2. Over 1.8 million Millennials engaged in the campaign, and 1.4 million of them via on-premise events

3. The 1000 Whatever, USA attendees posted 37,000 pieces of social media content that were directly accessed by more than 15 million people of Facebook and Twitter.

4. The Whatever, USA app created for the 1000 participants resulted in 2.5 million engagements

5. Analytics showed the Whatever, USA program engaged 40% more Millennials than the #UpForWhatever Super Bowl ad (proving the power of customer engagement over ads)

6. Website traffic to was up 212% over the Super Bowl time period

7. Whatever, USA social impressions topped 587 million, 267% over their goal!

8. Bud Light sales increased over the critical summer season: By the time the program ended, a five-year on-premise sales decline had been cut in half. Four-week usage among Millennials jumped 39 percent and brand preference indicators increased 30 percent.

9. 160,000 auditions were submitted to get into Whatever, USA

10. It was such a success they decided to bring back Whatever, USA on May 29th, 2015 but this time in Catalina Island, California.

Stats from – AdWeek



“I’d give my left foot to go back. One of the best experiences of my life.” -Mathew B. Alumni 2014

Lessons Learned

“In 10 years, this program will be seen as a milestone for Bud Light,” says Lambrecht. “To stay No. 1, you have to reinvent yourself. This was the first step. Moving forward, we will use experiences to reach the masses.”

“If we want to win with Bud Light to millennials, we need to offer them experiences, but we need to share the content created out of those experiences,” Lambrecht said. “Without the cool experience, we have no cool content. And without the cool content, our cool experience is only going to reach a very limited number of people.”

Bud Light, Mosaic and Energy BBDO hit it out of the park with the #UpForWhatever campaign, when it comes to engaging customers.  The entirely experienced-based campaign was a success because it focused on bringing people together and provided them with a platform to share their experiences.  Bud Light succeeded in connecting with millennials and building their trust by inviting them to play an important role in their ongoing brand story.

Submitted By: KellyBlack, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo

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