The Two Words That Changed The World
By Daniel Murray
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (
Lands End America), there was a THIRST-QUENCHINGLY REFRESHING MARKETING CAMPAIGN.
What if I told you, dear pupil, that the only reason you still drink Bud Light is because of two words (no, not “it’s cheap”).
It was August 27th 2017 – A Sunday to remember.
14 NFL games, 8 hours of nonstop football (yes I watched every hour), and the final episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones airing at 9pm.
One of the greatest shows of ALLLL TIME (other than How to Get Away With Murder) was in it’s season finale.
So much suspense, years of build up for this night.
And then came Bud Light.
Not expecting that one, right?
Bud Light’s commercial, that fateful afternoon, packed as much of a punch as 7 seasons of the good stuff (Game of Thrones).
“Professor Murray, what are you saying?”
Two words: Dilly Dilly
Bud Light was stumbling through a 10 year flatline in sales, losing traction in the ever competitive booze industry. Once an American staple, Bud Light was becoming that one Uncle who nobody really enjoys being around.
That was, until, Bud Light dropped a LEGENDARY, medieval commercial in honor of the culmination of GoT (that’s cool slang for Game of Thrones).
Bud Light capitalized on a timely crossover.
Marketing excellence ^.
Game of Thrones was a cultural event that attracted Bud Light’s current consumers (45-65 y/o), and also entertained a younger audience (21-28 y/o). Giving Anheuser-Busch (the brewing company / parent company behind good ol’ Bud Light) the unique opportunity to use GoT to market to their current customer.
Anheuser-Busch (via their Trojan Horse, Bud Light) was able to speak to a new audience (and their existing audience) concurrently. Cue the “two birds with one stone” saying.
Starks stars were alignin’.
Bud Light took on a new life and introduced DILLY DILLY to the world.
On that beautiful Sunday, they aired the first DILLY DILLY commercial. Featuring a scene where the King and Queen were presented with gifts at a most royal dinner.
What type of gifts would a King or Queen receive back in the day? A 20-pack of Bud Light, of course.
And, what happened to those who did not present Bud Light to the King and Queen??
They were sent to THE PIT OF MISERY.
The mastermind behind this campaign was the legendary Weiden+Kennedy advertising agency.
Winners of a boatload of ad awards (and the makers of Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign), they know a thing or two about staying hip with the culture of NOW.
And, oh boy did they lean into this NEWLY CREATED, obnoxious, hilarious, and effective new world.
The Dilly Dilly reign started with a series of comical commercials, but swiftly morphed into a cultural staple.
NFL players were using it in play calls.
ESPN covered the mania on SportCenter, and media personalities were shooting out “Dilly Dilly” tweets like their lives depended on it.
Even the experts of the English language at Merriam-Webster chimed in on the buzz, spitting some facts about the beloved “Dilly.”
Further cementing their dedication to their new medieval world, when a craft brewer ripped off their mantra with a “Dilly Dilly IPA,” Bud Light sent a town crier to the craft brewer’s headquarters to let them know what’s what.
~INSERTINTSERT GIF OF THE TOWN CRIER~ LOL YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP
The stunt instantly made national news headlines.
Enhancing the legacy of “Dilly Dilly” and earning MILLIONS of organic impressions for Bud Light.
And, in the process, showing us marketers the importance of having your toes dipped into the culture of NOW.
Yet, a craft brewer was not the only one piggybacking off of the adored catchphrase.
The Philadelphia Eagles acted quickly and mimicked “Dilly Dilly” with their very own, “Philly Philly.”
The Eagles then won the Super Bowl in magnificent fashion, with “Philly Philly” being adorned everywhere in the stadium. It was meant to be (#soulmates).
Bud Light showed up to the Eagle’s Super Bowl Parade and gave everyone in the city free Bud Light.
As if W+K and Bud Light couldn’t top themselves, they reached top tier troll status when the Masters came around…
The Masters banned the phrase ahead of their tournament (lame move by them tbh). So Bud Light sent 500 “Dilly Dilly” hats to people attending the event to spite The Masters.
W+K and Bud Light were playing chess while everyone else was playing Angry Bird.
As a result of all of those harmless ‘lil shenanigans…
We experienced, what me and my fellow esteemed Professors call: The Dilly Dilly Effect
- Bud Light gained market share for the first time since 2011.
- W+K and Bud Light garnered 900M+ earned media impressions from the entirety of the campaign (LEGENDARY).
- Beer sales in the ENTIRE adult beverage industry rose 3.3% year over year 🤯
Bud Light’s ad spend was 20% lower in 2017 than in 2016, yet they had one of their most successful years ever.
Besties Students, leveraging pop culture can do incredible things for your brand.
Bud Light hit a home run with Dilly Dilly.
And, they lived happily ever after.