Browsing articles in "Branding"
Sep 6, 2014

Bud Light Brand Experience. Whatever.

Visitors to Whatever U.S.A.

It’s been difficult to watch tv this summer without seeing commercials for Bud Light’s “real town,” Whatever, U.S.A.  I have periodically gone on the site “,”  signed in with my age (to prove I am over 21, which anyone can do.)  I have to confess that I am not the target audience, and I am basically too old to decipher what is happening here. There is a renamed town called Whatever U.S.A. where people can party on.  Whatever.    That town is Crested Butte, Colorado, to which Bud Light paid $500,000 for the privilege of bringing 1000 Bud Light-drinking-fans for three days of partying and entertainment.  One Denver Post article said that Honey Boo Boo and Jay Z were spotted among the crowds.  In keeping with Bud Light’s blue bottle, main street was painted blue, and blue buses were carrying around Bud Light imbibing passengers.  Whatever USA officially opened for business just this week.  Whatever.

The run up to Whatever U.S.A. was pop up Bud Light Whatever experiences, running throughout the summer.  I was able to follow one video which featured two random guys who told the Bud Light Rep they were “Up for Whatever” and an experience ensued, among other things, meeting Alonzo Mourning in a hotel room, and having Karl Malone arrive as a mailman and hooking them up with the full whatever treatment.  This included being driven around town by a bull, riding on a bus with cheerleaders, playing H.O.R.S.E. with some NBA players, and getting tricked out at a men’s store in real N.B.A. goin’ out on the town style.  Now, that’s hardly whatever.  But there you go.

I got interested in the rankings of beer by sales and found some figures for the top 20 in 2013.  Brook and I used to use Budweiser as an example in our branding presentation, with its “This Bud’s for You” (i.e. anyone) line which was part of making them the King of Beers for a very, very long time.  Turns out that in 2013 Bud Light was the King of Beers, topping the top 20 with $5,945,776,000 in sales.  Among the top 20 are 11 beers distributed by Anheuser Busch, including #20 Bud Light Straw Ber Rita which had $246,550,800 in sales.  Budweiser, it’s audience growing older, clocked in with $2,1110,352,000 in sales.  Not bad, but not close to Bud Light.  Whatever.

Bud Light’s UpforWhatever campaign is what marketers calls “experiential.”  In addition to Whatever, U.S.A., Bud Light has surprised people all summer (who are up for whatever) with experiences like the NBA one described above.

One of the first experiential campaigns was Saturn’s Homecoming Weekend, described in 1994 by the Chicago Tribune:

SPRING HILL, Tenn. — They arrived from 47 states and a handful of countries. They strapped themselves into harnesses and climbed walls made to look like mountains. Two of them took a respite between the plant tour and the Wynona Judd concert and got married.There were bands, singers, magicians and a fireworks display with “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” as background music. Tattoo artists left their mark (briefly-they were washable) on guests while even a blacksmith demonstrated how he plies his trade. This was a happening, an event likened to Woodstock revisited.When 38,000 people braved heat, humidity and subsequent cloudbursts to attend.

Saturn was one of the first corporations to recognize that people connect with their stuff and the more you help them connect, the more they want your stuff.

One of the most bizarre experiential campaigns is the Marlboro Ranch Campaign, where winners of contests can go to Crazy Mountain Ranch and smoke with other smokers.  As Crazy Mountain Ranch *Marlboro* says on its Facebook page:

To all who have inquired. No. You can not pay to go to the ranch. Only way to experience the Crazy Mountain Ranch is by winning or being the guest of a winner.
Jan 28, 2014

Why is Hawai`i so expensive?

This isn’t about why Hawai`i is so expensive, but as it happens it is the first word that comes up on google search when you put in the question “Why is Hawaii so…”

Thanks to the Huffington post which says “thanks to the Twitter account @Amazing_Maps, we now have an idea of how the Internet stereotypes all 50 U.S. states. When a search phrase like “Why is Illinois so…” is typed into Google, the search engine autocompletes the sentence with the word that people most commonly write in the search bar next. In this way, Google autocomplete may reveal the deeply held assumptions the public holds about a state.”

So Hawaii is grouped with Alaska, California and New York as “expensive”.  The subsequent words that come up for Hawai`i are “hot” (I googled that and 160,000,000 results came up in six-tenths of a second.  All of them were about weather, not whether Hawaii was hot as in cool). After hot, there is popular, beautiful and warm.  According to google searches, Louisiana is racist, Iowa is important, Oregon is good and Massachusetts is smart.  Oddly enough, at least to me, Connecticut is haunted.  I completely do not get that.

Just for fun I googled “why is Google so…” and I got, in order, slow,  stupid, and awesome.  Twitter and Facebook share many of the same descriptors, including valuable, addictive and successful.

I think this Internet search thing is an indicator of the dumbing down of our society.  After all the news about the reddening of North Carolina, the state comes up first as “cheap”.  That being said, further down the line (and not very far) is the question “Why is North Carolina so backward?”  Now that is something I would like to know, especially because it happened so fast and before our very eyes.  I googled it.  The first thing that came up in a search with over 5 million results was which “chronicles North Carolina’s inexorable march backward.”

I googled “Why is Washington D.C. so” and the word democratic was the first to pop up, followed by dangerous and liberal.  Given the current climate, I thought it might join Illinois as “corrupt.”

When I was working in the advertising business, our parent company DDBNeedham had a brilliant research guy who essentially invented psychological research testing for the ad industry.  His name was Bill Wells.  He once told me that you could tell what the dominant characteristic of a city was by sitting in restaurants and listening to what people were talking about.  This was thirty years ago, before Google, and pretty much before internet searches had a chance to catch up with national prejudice.   Have I mentioned this before?  Oh well.  It is always interesting to me.  Chicago, where he worked, is about “work.”  New York is about “money.”  Los Angeles is about “the deal” and Washington is about “power”.

Recently, I asked my friend Dennis Gillespie what one word, in the Bill Wells tradition, described Hawai’i.  He didn’t say “expensive.”  He said “generous.”

Sep 18, 2013

Fun with Guns

Iowa has passed a law that permits blind people to own guns (and,presumably, to shoot them).  There have been three permits issued, and several Iowa legislators say they did not know what they were approving when they passed the bill.  Nonetheless, the Governor of Iowa says there is no problem with it.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, an NRA-backed constitutional amendment that guarantees gun ownership as a fundamental right has wrought a law suit from felons which won in a court case that struck down the law which said felons could not own guns.  Apparently Bobby Jindal,who endorsed the constitutional amendment, did not know that it could nullify many of Louisiana’s more sensible gun laws.

On to North Carolina, where the Winston Salem city council reluctantly passed a law allowing guns on their playgrounds.  They were forced to do this by a state law saying that guns were to be permitted on all playgrounds in North Carolina.

Captain Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords have recently produced videos of Kelly filling out a background check to buy a 45.  It took 5 minutes to get approval after Kelly answered “no” to a list of questions like “Are you a felon?” and “Are you addicted to marijuana?”

Kelly said in a television interviewed that there have been several (five, I think) mass shootings since Newtown (a mass shooting is defined as the killing of four or more people).  Kelly also pointed out that upwards of 65% of Americans don’t own guns.

That’s right:  65% of us don’t own guns.  So why can the NRA throw out two decent Colorado legislators and ensure that our national government does not pass gun laws:  not on the heels of Newtown, not now on the heels of the Navy Yard?   Harry Reid says he can’t get the votes.

Once again, I am reminded of Yate’s poem, where the “worst are full of passionate intensity, and the best lack all conviction.”  Robert Reich, Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, opines that we are near a tipping point — like the country was in 1901, and again in the 30s and the 60s.  He believes that things will tip in the direction of the values our country was founded on.  I wonder.



Sep 13, 2013

Ted Cruz: Cuckoo Calling?

Today Ted Cruz is on the stump championing racism by quoting John Wayne’s comment to overt racist Jesse Helms:  ”Aren’t you the crazy one?  We need 100 more like you.”

Then, Cruz implies that it takes guts to be crazy like Jesse Helms, and that not many people have the guts to be crazy which he himself clearly has.  Cruz is crazy like a fox.  Harvard educated, McCathy look and act alike, Cruz ignores the fact that today we have more than 100 crazy people like him, every last one of them nuts in their own right and playing to a crowd (and taking advantage of them) that is feeling left out of the American dream.

On the other side of the coin there is Elizabeth Warren, the straight talking inventor of the Consumer Protection Agency, who acknowledges at an AFL-CIO conference that “the people know that the system is rigged against them.”

Here’s the irony:  Elizabeth Warren is the little guy’s real champion, someone who is willing to go to bat for the huge percentage of our populous which has not benefited from our weak recovery.  Recently released statistics show that 95% of the gains from the “recovery” have gone to the 1%.

Ted Cruz has no intention of doing anything for anyone but Ted Cruz.  He is playing to a crowd of comparatively uneducated folks who are not part of the big game that Cruz himself is playing as a Senator.  He rightly tells “the people” that only they can kill Obamacare when he flat out knows this to be a lie.

But that takes the burden off him, doesn’t it?  He and his ilk can go around the planet risk free, speaking irresponsibly and insulting his audience — who he clearly thinks is stupid.

And now comes Republican strategist Steve Schmidt who gave us Sarah the gift that keeps on giving Palin, saying that Cruz has positioned himself to be a leader for the GOP in the 2016 Presidential race.  That’s great.  Cruz and Rand Paul — according to Schmidt, Rubio has counted himself out by his honest position on immigration — will be big contenders.

If Chris Christie isn’t able to skate to the nomination and Cruz and the crazies are actually taken seriously, the 98% (or at least a substantial share of them) will have meaningless revenge on the ones who rigged the game.

We don’t need 100 crazies like Ted Cruz.  We need 100 crazies like Elizabeth Warren — who respect their audience and tell the truth as they see it.  Ted Cruz looks like a lounge singer, but his song is far more dangerous than we are giving him credit for.

Once again I am reminded of Yeats’ poem The Second Coming.  Ted Cruz  could very well be the rough beast whose hour has come round at last, slouching his way towards Bethlehem to be born.

Mar 7, 2013

White House to Sell Vegetables to Local Grocers

When it was reported that the White House was cancelling the “spring tour” season, our intrepid reporter wanted to look into other savings the President and his family were prepared to make in light of the sequester.

First of all, its important to know that the Easter Egg Roll will proceed as in years past.  The one minor change this year is that children are being asked to bring their own eggs.  The White House estimates that this will save the country 18 cents per person attending the egg roll, a White House tradition since 1878.  The number of people expected this year, selected by an online lottery system, is 35,000.  Total savings is estimated to be $6,300.

The White House will also begin selling vegetables from its garden to local grocers.   The White House chef told reporters that they are currently giving 1/3 of the vegetables to organizations that serve people in need.  Now, instead of having vegetables from the garden, the Obama family will take up a diet of kimchee and rice so that the remaining two thirds can be sold at a premium to area grocery stores.    

In order to distinguish them from other vegetables, the White House vegetables will be branded “The White House.  America’s House.”   Currently a contest is underway for developing a logo for the vegetables from the White House garden.  The winner will be able to bypass the lottery and come to the Easter Egg Roll.  What’s more, an egg will be supplied for rolling purposes.  Other entrants will receive the pleasure of knowing that someone at the White House may have seen their design. 

America looks forward to other savings being made by the White House — doing its part for the sequester — and everyone in these United States of America is being encouraged to make their own savings as a contribution to the nation’s staggering debt.  The money you save can be donated to the America’s newest 501C3, The Super Sequester Pac, organized to raise funds to offset the cuts of $85 billion.   Corporations can donate as persons, but expectations in this area are low.



Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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