Q&A: Bud Light’s Marketing VP on the Bud Knight, Spuds MacKenzie and Everything in Between

'The core of what we do is fun'

The Bud Knight became an unexpected star for the brand.
Bud Light

After his debut in Bud Light’s 2017 Dilly Dilly campaign, the Bud Knight has made cameos in three of America’s biggest sporting events: the Super Bowl, the Final Four and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

His streak is likely to continue. After the NFL season begins Sept. 5, Bud Light marketing vice president Andy Goeler said fans will see more of its medieval Dilly Dilly universe, including some new faces to play off the Bud Knight’s popularity.

The 37-year-old beer brand is no stranger to breakout ad stars. Bull terrier Spuds MacKenzie, for example, first appeared during the 1987 Super Bowl and went on to become not just a beer mascot, but a pop culture icon.

Goeler, who was one of Adweek’s 2018 Brand Genius class, has worked for Anheuser-Busch in various capacities since 1980. He’s now two years into his second stint with the Bud Light brand after leading marketing there in the ‘90s.

Adweek spoke to him about how marketing has changed since his last go-round, how Bud Light creates characters that resonate, and how the brand speaks to so many consumers at once.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For starters, tell us how marketing has changed since you were last with Bud Light.
Andy Goeler: The consumer marketing landscape has changed dramatically since the ‘90s. The most obvious change is just the way kids interact with different digital and social platforms, which is significantly different than how they did it back in the ‘90s.

The consumer today is also into more variety-seeking, which led us to provide some new extensions in the Bud Light world like Orange, Lime and Lemon Tea.

I think the thing through it all is a brand like Bud Light has to have the ability to stay consistent with who you are as a brand. When I manage a brand, it’s all about managing the personalities, the way the brand behaves and acts. Bud Light has always been about fun, bringing people together, making good times better, and that’s been a core of the brand all through the ‘90s and even through today.

The poor Bud Knight has been through a lot this year, so it was nice he got to celebrate in St. Louis when the Blues won the Stanley Cup. But does the Game of Thrones finale impact his character arc?

The medieval world we created is really still very, very popular with consumers, and so we’re going to continue delivering content in that medieval world. It’s half the battle to get people to pay attention to your messaging.

The Bud Knight has been one of the characters we’ve developed in the medieval world. There will be a few new ones as we go into the NFL season, but as we look at the character, for some reason, the Bud Knight has really connected to a greater degree. Consumers seem to really like the character, and [when] we bring the Bud Knight into large events they line up and get pictures with him.

Was the St. Louis Blues’ victory parade the first time Bud Light has borrowed Budweiser’s Clydesdales?

It’s never been done before. That was tricky—the Clydesdales are an amazing symbol of heritage for Anheuser-Busch. Not to have the Clydesdales in a parade as big as the Blues winning the Stanley Cup? You can’t do it. As the Bud Light team, we said, “Wait a minute, this is Bud Light’s chance to shine.” The compromise was to put the Bud Knight with them.

You have so many different activations—the Bud Knight, Internet Heroes of Genius and Victory Fridges for Cleveland Browns fans, to name a few. Why? Are they all interconnected somehow?