Budweiser 'threw away rule book' to nail purpose-driven marketing

Making the world a better place is making the beer giant even more profitable.

Budweiser's brand health hasn’t been this high in more than a decade, according to Ricardo Marques, vice president of US marketing at the company.

Their secret sauce (or hops): Purpose-driven marketing. Marques said they "threw away the rule book" while talking about the brand’s success at the 4A’s Accelerate conference in Miami on Tuesday.

At the heart of this new-found glory is longform storytelling, and the decision to step away from traditional 60-second video slots.  

"What we found out by challenging that model is people are always looking for a great story," he said. "The power of a great story cannot be contained in 60 seconds. We found out that people follow and take the time to appreciate the story."

The team was on a mission to humanize the brand by taking Bud back to its roots. Focus fell on a number of campaigns which personify its core values. In June 2017, it told the emotional story of how it delivered a life-changing scholarship to a young woman whose father was badly injured in a military training exercise.

The Folds of Honor partnership saw actor Adam Driver -- who added clout by revealing he too was hurt in the Army -- surprise the family in an ad played out solely on social media and packaged with the hashtag "ThisBudsForYou." Since 2011, Bud has awarded scholarships to more than 2,000 families of fallen or injured veterans.

Bud struck again with its Super Bowl commercial called "Stand by You." It outlined the company's effort to provide emergency drinking water to communities in need during natural disasters -- halting beer production every time. So far, the spot has garnered more than 20 million views on YouTube.

"Small brands are good, big brands are bad," said Marques of the stereotype. "But there are things you can do more effectively and with more reach if you’re a big brand. We’re bringing the conversation back to what big brands like Budweiser can do to positively impact the world."

The brand is practicing what it preaches, too. In April, it will announce news that Bud is brewed using 100 percent renewable energy. And responsibility doesn’t stop at the environment. A partnership with Lyft ensures everyone has a designated driver by offering drinkers a ride credit on nights out.

One area in which Bud won't venture is politics. "Beer is bringing people together from all walks of life -- that’s what we stand for," Marques said. "We don’t believe it’s our place to comment on where the politics of the country are going. But it is our place to lead with action."

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