When Anheuser-Busch announced plans to launch its online entertainment channel Bud.TV this year, the media world was atwitter with anticipation about a non-entertainment company undertaking such an ambitious entertainment venture. Bud.TV was touted as the latest and greatest in “advertainment” for beer drinkers (READ: 20-something frat boys), featuring “hilarious” mini-programs, “edgy” talk shows and, oh yeah, Budweiser commercials — all for the low, low price of a $30 million investment by AB.
Yet after $15 million and thousands of hours of slave labor from graphic designers and producers — as well as speculation the company would scrap the network — Anheuser-Busch says it’s time to go back to the interactive drawing board. So what went wrong?
Not unlike a Sigma Chi flip-cup tournament, all-Budweiser, all-the-time seemed like a great idea at first. Yet as time wore on, its contents got flat, promotions got sloppy and the audience started to fade away. In just its third month, Bud.TV only had about 150,000 unique visitors — a 40% drop in traffic from the previous month and a lifetime away from the 3 to 5 million the company had estimated.
After visiting the site a few times, it’s definitely entertaining, but it’s obvious that Bud.TV has failed to follow the formula successful sites have used to reach and keep this audience coming back:
1. Don’t sell. Bud.TV may not be all commercials, but all shows point to one obvious conclusion: drinking beer is cool.
2. It’s got to be interactive, which Bud.TV is not. Hello? It is INTERACTIVE marketing we’re talking about here.
3. Connections, connections, connections. Have we not learned anything from MySpace? Creating a community will draw them in and keep them there.
Now, I doubt I’m telling the marketing gurus anything they don’t know, but whether or not this entertainment experiment remains to be seen. Either way, I’m glad to see Anheuser-Busch hasn’t abandoned Bud.TV altogether, especially since the company says it’s got some great stuff on tap (I couldn’t resist). Besides, it’s summer re-run season and I’d much rather watch a funny Bud Commercial over that stupid bingo show any day.