Budweiser Blitzed: How the Brand Fumbled a Newsjacking Opportunity

January 16th, 2014

Recently, we’ve seen some savvy, observant and quick-to-react brands successfully employ newsjacking to capitalize on timely, popular sports stories. Newsjacking is the process by which a brand injects its ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, to generate media coverage for itself.

This past Sunday, the multinational beverage and brewing company Budweiser had a tremendous newsjacking opportunity stemming from a comment made during the Denver Broncos post-game press conference. When confronted with questions about his future in the NFL, Bronco’s QB Peyton Manning seemed less concerned about addressing next season and more concerned about something else. Something, well, slightly colder…

“What’s weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth after this win,” said Manning. “That’s priority number one.”

Short of pulling out an ice cold Bud Light and chugging it on camera right there in the press room, Manning’s response was more than the brand could have ever asked for. After all, Peyton’s witty personality and enormous popularity has brands like Papa John’s, Buick, DirecTV, Reebok, Wheaties and Gatorade lined up to pay the 37-year-old QB an estimated $13 million per year in combined endorsement deals.

Peyton, whose popularity is at an all-time high, is in midst of a playoff run following the most prolific season of his 16-year NFL career—a season for which Manning is a shoo-in to take home his 5th league MVP award. Seriously, could a brand have scripted a better shout-out from a better person?

Budweiser had many different ways they could have responded, most of which would have garnered the brand a considerable amount of media coverage and free publicity. After hearing the exchange, they assessed the situation and called an audible based on Peyton’s comment. At first glance, it didn’t look like a great play call, and upon further review, it’s become clear that Budweiser completely fumbled this great opportunity.

The first brand’s response was a tweet which said, “And then there were 4.” It was accompanied by a picture of four Bud Light cans featuring the logos of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs. Left at that, it would have been a fairly disappointing response. But it gets worse. They somehow managed to get two of the four remaining teams WRONG. The Broncos and 49ers were correct, but the image featured the just-eliminated Colts and Saints rather than the still-alive Patriots and Seahawks. How could they fumble what seemed like such a sure thing?

The tweet has since been deleted and replaced with an edited image and short Vine video of the comments, but the damage was done. While they certainly didn’t gain any new fans in New England or Seattle, the worst part is that they reduced the impact of the newsjacking opportunity. It’s not every day that one of the most popular pitchmen in any industry gives your brand a free shout-out on a huge platform. Yet Peyton Manning did just that, setting them up for a game-winning, chip shot field goal that most Pop Warner placekickers could make 10 out of 10 times. But they blew it. Budweiser fumbled the snap before they even got a chance to attempt the kick.

What do you think Budweiser could have done to better capitalize on the freebie they received from the most popular figure in the most popular sport? Can you think of any examples of brands that successfully employed newsjacking? Tweet us @BeOnTheBall.

Posted Under: Storytelling
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