Super Bowl commercial water cooler talk is the natural order of business, especially at marketing agencies, in FEBRUARY! But who knew it would follow me to March—the end of March mind you, during Spring Break. Seriously.
There I was yesterday, minding my own business, enjoying a spring training game in Florida with my son and our beloved Washington Nationals, when from the top of the aisle I hear the beer vendor bellow, “Peanuts, water, ice cold Dilly Dilly!” Again, “Dilly Dilly, ice cold!”
It’s no secret that Wieden+Kennedy’s advertising for Bud Light launched last year, ran during pretty much every football game, went viral and is now a “love it or hate it” campaign and Urban Dictionary catch phrase that just won’t go away. And then, to hear this affirmed, nay proclaimed long after the end of football season, beckoning the beginning of baseball wasn’t entirely unexpected. But it was surprising—pleasantly, even joyously surprising.
And, dammit, instructive.
What got me was the reaction of the crowd. Our beer vendor’s town crier “Ice cold Dilly Dilly!” chant sparked a wave of infectious smiles and chuckles in the sea of parents, grandparents, and kids in section 116. Good will and camaraderie drifted happily through the crowd, followed by an echo of “Dilly Dilly!” from fans in row K, responding with resolve to our vendor’s battle cry for beer, “Yes, I’ll have a Bud Light—thank you, Kind Sir—Dilly Dilly!” The chuckles grew louder and spread to section 115 next door, right behind the Nats dugout. I think Bryce Harper heard the call as well, but alas could not reply as he was next up to bat.
So, crap, I’m not supposed to be thinking about work on Spring Break. Yet, here I am, sipping coffee at 6 AM, thinking about marketing and strategy implications for Grafik and our clients. And there are several:
First of all—Strategy? C’mon. It’s not like Anheuser-Busch crafted a strategy to spew “Game of Thrones” inspired nonsense and fun in their Bud Light marketing? Well, actually, they did: in a Business Insider interview last month, Miguel Patricio, Chief Marketing Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, shared, “‘Dilly Dilly’ doesn’t mean anything. That’s the beauty of it. I think that we all need our moments of nonsense and fun. And I think that ‘Dilly Dilly,’ in a way, represents that.”
Okay, then the research numbers must have strongly supported the campaign? Actually, they didn’t. Mr. Patricio continued, “A lot of people asked me, ‘How did you approve that?’ To tell you the truth, we never expected this to be so successful. We did that ad, actually, because of the new season of “Game of Thrones” coming, but when we tested, it didn’t test that well. We said, ‘Consumers will get it.’ And especially with repetition. We have a chance here for this to become big. So, we went against the research and we gave a chance to ‘Dilly Dilly’ and we are so happy!”
The lesson here is central to brand strategy—something we discussed just last week in two different branding workshops with our clients: “Don’t forget the right brain. The essence of your brand isn’t just what you say about it, it’s also how it makes people feel.” Yes, the words are important—critical in fact, but make sure they do more than just explain the “debate points” of your selling proposition. They have to articulate the idea of your brand and the feeling it conveys. This is true for all companies working through brand and marketing strategies—including Grafik’s Fortune 100, technology, startup, and Government agency clients who are all solving this right now.
The second lesson comes not only from our “Dilly Dilly” town crier beer vendor, but also from a short video segment from the seat screen on my JetBlue flight down to Florida. In an interview, a prominent CEO was asked, “What was the best piece of business advice you ever received?” She said, “Trust your gut.”
Trust it, indeed.
AB focused on how Bud Light makes you feel, trusted their gut, and launched a very successful advertising campaign. It’s not their only marketing and messaging, of course. We all know the “debate points” about why we should choose Bud Light over other light beers. But these facts, mixed with a ballpark full of fans sharing a feeling of delight and attaching it to the Bud Light brand, completes the picture.
“Dilly, Dilly!” indeed.