Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Old Milwaukee: A Low-Budget Super Bowl Ad?

Companies spend enormous sums of money advertising during the Super Bowl.   If you are Budweiser, you can afford to invest in this type of marketing.  However, if you are Old Milwaukee beer, it becomes more difficult to justify that type of marketing expense.   The firm simply doesn't have the scale to support that type of advertising.  Moreover, it's not a premium beer; the firm has a simple, low cost strategy.  Old Milwaukee came up with an ingenious solution though.  They developed a simple TV commercial with Will Ferrell, who happens to love their beer.   It didn't run nationally though.  The firm ran the commercial in only one market - North Platte, Nebraska.  The town has approximately 15,000 homes.   It's the second smallest TV market in the country by Nielsen standards.  Why run the ad in this market?  Old Milwaukee actually leveraged that low-cost TV ad to create excitement via social media.   Boston-based advertising agency Mullen has reported that the Old Milwaukee ad generated more mentions on Twitter Sunday night than many nationally aired Super Bowl ads.  Moreover, a user uploaded a low-quality copy of the ad onto YouTube.  Old Milwaukee set up a link to YouTube on its official Facebook page.  Soon, the ad had been viewed more often than Budweiser's primary Super Bowl commercial!

What's the lesson here?  If your firm has a low cost strategy, it must think creatively about how to market its products.  Social media offers an opportunity to promote a brand at very little expense.  However, many firms are blitzing social media platforms these days.  It's become a cacophony at times.  Therefore, you have to think about how to emerge from the clutter.  Old Milwaukee did just that with an ad that not only generated buzz initially on Twitter and Facebook, but that also had a second life as a story picked up in the mainstream media about an innovative marketing strategy.  That story, of course, will live on far longer than the immediate surge of interest generated on Twitter and Facebook Sunday night.  After all, look at this blog and many others which are writing about it!

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