In my last post, I wrote that competition for attention will be won by companies that use storytelling across multiple platforms and screens as their main marketing strategy. Click here for that article. If you enjoy today’s article, please share it with your network by clicking on the +1, Like or Tweet button.
Under the guise of filming a documentary about mens league hockey, Budweiser Canada created a transmedia marketing movement and invited all of us to become a part of it. This single event may have given them an edge over all their competition. As one viewer wrote
“Just shows Budweiser understands Canadians better than the US owners of Molson Canadian” TimArmst 16 hours ago
Superbowl XLVI featured a match-up of two of the greatest organizations in sports; the Port Credit Generals versus Les Amigos. Never hear of them? Until yesterday, neither had I.
Theirs was an epic battle filmed in the hallowed hockey barn of Port Credit, Ontario. For those who haven’t been, Port Credit is easy to miss. A small village on the shores of Lake Ontario, Port Credit now finds itself engulfed by the city of Mississauga. In spite of their obscurity, the players from these two small town teams represent something much larger than themselves. Their story of passion for the game of hockey transcends their location and resonates with Canadians across the nation.
This passion is not lost on Budweiser. Budweiser understands that stories are more emotional than unique selling propositions. Stories are more powerful than marketing messages. Stories are more powerful than coupons, calls to action or the explosions of deals. Stories are the emotional thread to our minds and wallets. Maya Angelou wasn’t a marketer, but her brilliant observation on relationships can be applied to this rapidly changing industry.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
By evoking a sense of pride and giving Canadians something to feel good about, Budweiser earned a preferred place on the beer brand-shelf of tens of thousands of Canadians.
The Power of Sports
Stories grounded in sports emotionally connect fans and bring them together. Giants fans may never forget the courage of Jake Ballard trying to get back into the game on an injured knee (go to 0:36 on this video) . They will likely never forget the spectacular throw by Eli Manning and catch by Mario Manningham (click here) that practically assured the Giants of victory. Similarly, Patriots fans will have a hard time forgetting Wes Welker’s drop (watch it here) which may have cost them the Lombardi trophy. These types of dramatic moments live on forever through stories in the hearts and minds of their fans.
In sports, the cast of characters create their story live on the field. As was in the case of The Generals vs. Les Amigos, their passion of the game creates an almost movie like quality as it unfolds in real time. The Generals and Les Amigos represent Canadian’s legendary passion for hockey. Budweiser recognized that this passion could be captured and shared with the world as a branded celebration told through the eyes of a couple of local teams.
The following are patterns or phases of transmedia stories that I’ve seen repeated in several previous transmedia events such as the release of Tron Legacy, Dark Knight or Jay Z’s Decoded. This analysis is not complete, but represents one methodology or framework for creating future transmedia campaigns.
Phase 1 – Start with Why
Creating an emotional connection to a brand is critical to developing a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As Simon Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Budweiser clearly feels that sports are a great way to create an emotional connection with their customers. By scanning both their Facebook and Twitter feeds, the impression is that the people at Budweiser are sports fans who happen to sell beer. Applying Simon’s theory to Budweiser, beer drinkers don’t buy beer because you sell it, they buy it because they are passionate fans of hockey and want to buy from people who are also passionate fans of hockey.
Phase 2 – Bring People Together
Geno Church, one of the really smart people at Brains on Fire, has been quoted as saying that People are the Killer App. Geno and the Brains on Fire people believe that great organizations are driven by purpose, grow relationships and thrive through movements. Geno is also the person who pointed me in the direction the Keller Fay Group whose research states that 90% of Word of Mouth happens offline.
Through collaboration Budweiser turned an ordinary mens hockey beer league game into a big league event, Budweiser created an emotional event worthy of storytelling by everyone involved.
It’s important to note that the Brains of Fire team make a distinction between campaigns and movements. Campaigns have a beginning and an end. Movements do not have an end. One of the extended tribe members John Moore does a good job explaining what a movement is here.
Phase 3 – Feed the In Crowd, Build Hype with your Fans
One week before the Superbowl, Budweiser Canada began hyping this campaign with their Facebook fans and Twitter followers using a number of short 11 second teaser videos. These are the people who are their “insiders”, their fans, the ones who talk and the people closest to their online brand. Budweiser gave their fans cool ‘insider’ information before they let the ‘outsider’ public know.
The advantage of having an inside crowd is that it creates outsiders. Outsiders ultimately creates demand. I believe I first heard of this concept from Seth Godin. Think of any club you’ve seen with a line-up. Those waiting in line are on the outside, wanting to be like the cool kids already in the club.
Phase 4 – Shared Ownership
On Facebook, Twitter and YouTube fans and viewers were permitted to share, Like, RT, +1 and comment on all of Budweiser’s content. By sharing ownership, the brand has to expect some negative response. Owners, after all, are entitled to their opinion. However, if you do it right the overwhelming majority will have a positive reaction. As Brains on Fire says, movements begin with the first conversation. Good or bad, every comment can trigger a movement.
If the comments on their social platforms are any indication, Budweiser just launched a movement with thousands of consumers who have invested in the Bud brand by starting a conversation with them. The length of the movement will depend on Budweiser’s ability and desire to carry on the conversation.
As with the Old Spice Twitter campaign, Budweiser could turn comments like these into an ongoing dialogue and ideation device for the next chapter of their story.
Phase 5 – Amplify the Message
During the Patriots vs. Giants game yesterday, Budweiser Canada ran two TV commercials to inform Superbowl fans of their new Flash Fans campaign. Both ads teased people with a compelling story and instructed interested viewers to go online Budweiser Canada YouTube channel to see more.
Once on YouTube, the viewer could watch six videos (4 teasers and 2 extended videos) that told more of the story behind this transmedia fan experience.
By 7:12 pm, Budweiser reported that their video had generated over 1.5 Million views.
Twenty four hours later, they had increased the views by 1 million and became the most watched video of the week on YouTube.
I look forward to hearing about the bottom line outcome of this campaign. Using Old Spice as a guide, I suspect those results will take three months before reporting. In the meantime, I can’t wait to lace up my skates tonight and laugh with my buddies as we become the heros of our own narrative. It’s a safe bet that Budweiser will be on tap at our local pub afterwards.
Do you think that I missed any other phases or elements? Do you have any other examples?
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