This Bud's Not For You: The $21 Million Website Update
Need a ready-made reminder of the pitfalls that accompany putting advertising before your overall marketing strategy? Look no further.
Up until this month’s Super Bowl XLVI, Budweiser.com was a content graveyard. I’d closely watched Bud’s homepage for weeks to see how long it would take them to do an update after a coworker told me she’d been on the site and was surprised at the lack of relevant content leading up to the big game. In fact, not just a dearth of content but no content.
To get an idea, here are three of the four options (the fourth being a Facebook app download) that were available to visitors of the main page. Be sure to click the links!
Help Budweiser Support Those Who Conserve The Outdoors. Linked to this message that reveals it's obviously a dead end.
Honor Our Heroes. Support Those Who Serve. This error notice greeted anyone who might have clicked on the link to support.
52 Weeks, Enter to Win. A redirect to Bud’s Facebook page let you discover that this campaign had, you guessed it, already finished.
These weren’t hidden down some rabbit hole either; they were featured on the homepage for everyone to see (see image to the right). A quick look-up on Quantcast.com shows an average of 80,000 visitors a month to Budwesier.com, visitors with nothing to do but enter their birth dates and stare as some animated beers slide across the screen. That’s some pretty limp marketing management for a $100 billion brand but, you get it, they made a mistake – so what? So, back to the Super Bowl.
Following Super Bowl Sunday’s infusion of six $3.5 million commercials (a grand total of $21 million) Budweiser finally updated their website. The ghost town of a homepage was replaced with an equally lifeless set of poorly conceived and absurdly expensive TV spots that everyone had already seen.
A website with some dead links is one thing, but this was like the tail wagging the dog. Budweiser spent so much money on their Super Bowl advertising that it completely eclipsed any intelligent marketing strategy. I’m just riffing here, but they very easily could have…
Nope, just the same ads. Ads and a $21 million website update. Woof.
It’s a missed opportunity on a massive scale but, to be honest, I had chalked this up as just another example of a mass-market brand with “beer goggles” (sorry, couldn’t help it) for their own advertising image until just last week I saw that Budweiser changed their website again. Not an update, but a rollback to their previous site with dead links and all (check it out, it’s live as of the posting of this story). With the Super Bowl having come and gone why bother trying to engage visitors, right?
Here’s my question: how long do you think brands like this can go on ignoring the importance of content, conversations and community in favor of huge, unwieldy advertising spends? While they obviously haven’t done anything about it, recent consumer insights clearly show the dangers of this tack as Budweiser has not only lost the #2 spot for U.S. beer sales but reportedly is losing its "cool factor." You think?
Meanwhile, in the world of non-alcoholic drinks, it seems other mass-market brands aren't having quite the same trouble connecting the dots. Just check out this Jerry Maguire-ish video manifesto unveiling Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 plans to move from “creative excellence to content excellence.”
Now that is a marketing strategy, Budweiser - drink up!
As Marketing Communications Manager, Luke Meyers handles all aspects of marketing, branding and market research for McMurry. Before McMurry, Luke worked in fundraising and development for the Visiting Nurse Service, one of the oldest non-profits in the country.