The Martin Agency's First Bud Light Seltzer Work Reminds Consumers It Doesn't Contain Beer

The campaign highlights the brand’s push for ‘100% Hard Seltzer, 0% Beer’

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Bud Light Seltzer’s name is confusing consumers.

Some people—over 50% of consumers polled by the brand—think there is beer in the brand’s hard seltzer.

“54% of consumers think there’s beer in Bud Light Seltzer … if we don’t communicate what’s in there, it won’t be clear. So we wanted to be very simple this year, and everything we do will ladder back to that theme,” Steve Wolf, vp of marketing for Bud Light Extensions, told Adweek.

On top of needing to stand out in a crowded hard seltzer marketplace, Bud Light Seltzer’s first campaign from The Martin Agency will attempt to separate the seltzer from its namesake beer. The Martin Agency, which won the Bud Light Seltzer business in August of last year, has produced a campaign that is full of vibrant bubbles to stake a claim that the seltzer brand is “100% Hard Seltzer, 0% Beer.”

“The main thing that they are struggling with as a brand is this perception that there’s beer in Bud Light Seltzer, and we got that challenge during the pitch process,” Mike Kelley, group creative director at The Martin Agency, told Adweek.

To address that, The Martin Agency came up with a new design system to help elevate the brand, and it utilized bubbles and lightness to show that it could stand out against the beige nature of beer. The agency even put a clear can into the design vocabulary to state that the seltzer has no beer. The strong design system informed the campaign storytelling starting with those bubbles.

Truckin’ in bubbles and new flavors

The Martin Agency wanted to put the bubbles into a real world environment, so they created a story that had a Bud Light Seltzer truck driving through the desert, hitting a bump and jostling open the cargo of big, colorful bubbles and letting them loose on the surrounding area.

The hero spot, “Truckin’ Bubbles,” showcases the refreshing, colorful flavor of Bud Light Seltzer infiltrating a desert of brown-ish beer sameness with those bubbles.

While the video shoot was filmed in the high desert of California, the bubbles were visual effects created by a small 3D design and animation studio called PrePost. The bubbles float over a convertible of happy people, then by a bar with guys drinking beer and eventually into a pool party, all to the soulful groove of “Colors” by Black Pumas.

Bud Light Seltzer’s line of Sangria Splash flavors.Bud Light/The Martin Agency

“They are wizards when it comes to visual effects. It’s all CGI, but they’ve done such a beautiful job making it look real,” said Kelley about PrePost.

The ad ends with the 100% Hard Seltzer, 0% Beer tag, which is also emblazoned on the can and the truck. That phrase was one of many that were tested with consumers, but emerged as the one that would move the needle most, according to Kelley.

The bright-hued bubbles were informed by the colors of Bud Light Seltzer’s entire flavor catalog, including the newest release, Sangria Splash, a line of flavors featuring real juice.

“Sangria is something we’re really excited about. It’s a first-to-market concept. Sangria is the third biggest cocktail in the U.S. and growing like wildfire. The flavors are very light, very fun,” said Wolf.

Board gamifying brand misconceptions

To further educate consumers that Bud Light Seltzer has no beer in it, and to correct other common misconceptions, Bud Light Seltzer partnered with party game company Rabble to create Misconceptions, a tabletop card game that pits teams against each other to see who can separate fact from fiction. It features true/false statements like “pineapple plants produce one pineapple a year” and “seeded watermelons taste sweeter than seedless.” The game is currently available for pre-order.

Bud Light/The Martin Agency

“We want to bring awareness to the idea that we are 100% hard seltzer, 0% beer, and maybe some other things people have been noodling on what they thought were true that may not be true,” said Wolf.

The game will also be seeded with certain influencers and will be promoted on social channels.

A cohesive working relationship

Kelley called the campaign a true team effort, and the working relationship the agency built with the brand quickly made for a seamless effort.

The Martin Agency actually co-wrote the brief with Bud Light Seltzer, which helped pull together the whole campaign over the course of several short months.

“They’ve been very trusting, very collaborative. Relationships are everything … the whole relationship has a direct impact on how the work transpired. We were able to get all this work done fairly quickly, over the holidays,” said Kelley.

Bud Light is hoping that the new campaign helps elevate the brand in an increasingly crowded hard seltzer market that includes White Claw, Truly and Topo Chico, among many others. It currently sits as the third largest player in the market, according to the brand, but wants to rise higher.

“In this category, there’s still a tremendous amount of upside that we are laser focused on for the long term,” said Wolf.

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