Anheuser-Busch Celebrates Portfolio With First Virtual Beer Festival

International Beer Day livestream included celebrity performances, Clydesdales and a Drizly partnership

The festival included a Bon Viv cocktail-making session with Cocktail Academy. Anheuser-Busch
Headshot of Ian Zelaya

As brands continue to invest in virtual experiences to connect with fans during the pandemic, Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev) celebrated multiple brands through music, tours and mixology classes for its first digital festival.

The brewing company hosted its first virtual International Beer Festival timed to International Beer Day on Aug. 7. The free three-hour event was livestreamed on AB InBev’s YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels; the stream can be viewed on YouTube and an event landing page.

For the festival, AB InBev leveraged celebrities and culinary and bartending pros to highlight brands including Budweiser, Bon Viv, Stella Artois and the Brewers Collective craft portfolio.

The festival kicked off with a behind-the-scenes look at Budweiser’s Clydesdale living.Anheuser-Busch

“During this time, we have been more focused than ever on putting people first and finding creative, unique ways to meet them where they are,” said Ronnie Yoked, head of experiential marketing at Anheuser-Busch, in a statement. “Our brands came together for this event like never before to provide an inclusive, engaging experience with something for everyone to enjoy.”

Event sessions varied from prerecorded branded content and mixology tutorials to live performances tied to specific brands:

  • A tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Saint Louis, Mo., along with a behind-the-scenes look at Budweiser’s brewing process and how the Clydesdale horses prepare for events.
  • Bon Viv ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Cocktail Academy experts offered mixology tutorials using the alcoholic seltzer.
  • Stella Artois’ “A Taste of the Life Artois@Home” cooking classes taught by chefs Jeff Mauro, Jeremy Ford and Esdras Ochoa, with giveaways from Le Creuset and Williams Sonoma.
  • Rapper and TV personality Action Bronson’s craft beer tasting session for Brewers Collective brands, with master cicerones Max Bakker and Ryan Daley.
  • Performances by Prince Royce and Jason Derulo for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Bud Light Seltzer’s ongoing virtual concert series.

Yoked said AB InBev curated a majority of the festival programming and talent as extensions of existing digital programs that its brands have launched since the pandemic began in March.

“Our brands are very clear on their passion points, so we just used this virtual festival as a way to highlight the great work they have already been doing and, for many, have been doing virtually,” she said.

To promote the event—and encourage viewers to imbibe or create drinks at home—AB InBev partnered with alcohol delivery platform Drizly. Through social posts, promo codes and in-app banners, Drizly users were invited to order AB InBev products.

The company’s in-house agency Draftline led overall festival production, which took about three weeks. AB InBev’s partners also included: experiential agencies Mosaic to produce the Prince Royce segment and We Are Swell for the Bon Viv segment; media production house LP Creative Studios for the Budweiser segment; and talent agency Synergy to secure the celebrities and musicians.

As of Aug. 10, the festival has drawn about 4 million views across social channels.

“Producing content during Covid-19 comes with its share of challenges. We have to produce with minimal production staff while still making sure the quality is up to par with our standards,” Yoked said. “It definitely takes more focus and planning, but I think we are finding a way to rise to the occasion.” Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.