Whether people in the organic industry like beer or not, the folks at Anheuser-Busch have done us an enormous favor. How?
By running its Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold organic beer commercial during the Super Bowl (113 million viewers) and Sunday night’s Grammy awards (20 million viewers), organic received unparalleled exposure on broadcast television. And if we throw in the 14 million from YouTube, this ad has garnered 147M views.
With our industry still unable to fund, develop and agree upon the creative direction for a national branding/advertising campaign, it could be easily argued that this Michelob commercial has become the de facto campaign for organic.
The ad, which stars Zoe Kravitz, daughter of music icon Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, features a lush, idyllic island background and utilizes an increasingly popular video technique called ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). According to scientists Beverley Fredborg, James Clark, and Stephen Smith, ASMR is “a perceptual phenomenon in which specific audiovisual stimuli frequently elicit tingling sensations on the scalp and neck, and often elicit a calm and positive emotional state that may last up to several minutes.” ASMR is also associated with mindfulness.
I spoke with Azania Andrews, Vice President of Marketing for Michelob ULTRA at Anheuser-Busch, about this campaign and the company’s future plans for organic.
Having a major beverage conglomerate, whose overall profile is largely non-organic, buy a Super Bowl promoting an organic brand is a serious statement. Is this the beginning of a larger shift within your company?
Michelob ULTRA has always been focused on aligning with broader health and wellness trends, starting with our launch in 2002 at the height of consumer interest in lower calorie and lower carb diets. As a major driver of growth in the beer category, we will continue to develop products that reflect consumer interests – and that includes organic. Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold was the number two most successful innovation in beer in 2018 and, as a result, has received recognition from peers and competitors as a promising product in our industry.
Additionally, Anheuser-Busch as a company recognized the potential of organic in the non-alcoholic space with the acquisition of Hiball energy drinks in 2017.
What are you seeing, in terms of consumer behavior patterns of beer drinkers, that people are ready to make the switch to organic beer in a meaningful way?
Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold was born out of the observation that a growing segment of the population is switching to organic food and beverages as they make steps toward cleaner living. Trends in beer tend to follow broader consumer trends, so we felt that now was the right time to introduce an organic beer from a major brewer.
The messaging in this ad did not tout the organic aspects or benefits of this beer, such as free from GMOs, synthetic fertilizers or harmful pesticides. Rather, it focused on the overall aesthetic of the location and ASMR. Why?
Our most important objective was to drive awareness that Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is a great tasting organic beer. With a combination of beautiful visuals and unique ASMR cues, the commercial itself was designed to be a love letter to Pure Gold. Further information about what makes our beer organic will be included at relevant moments throughout the year.
Does the company plan on launching more organic products?
While I can’t share plans for more organic products at this time, I can say we are committed to bringing our drinkers options that match their lifestyles and reflect current cultural trends.
When asked about this campaign, marketing experts offered different feedback.
“I thought it was much more brand forward than about organic,” said Alex Matthews, Founder of Here Studio, a branding, design and CPG product development firm.
“This is only a positive for the organic industry. An ad airing during the most watched tv event in the world is the tectonic shift in organic awareness we have been waiting for. It is no longer the stuff just for hippies. It’s for everyone — like we have been saying for decades,” shared Greg Fleishman, Co-Founder of Foodstirs and Purely Righteous Brands.
While it may be difficult to quantify exactly how this commercial will benefit the overall organic industry, it is irrefutable that Anheuser-Busch placing a still shot of the USDA organic seal at the end of the commercial is raising awareness of organic in an unprecedented way.
Have a great day!
Max Goldberg, Founder
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