Welcome to Whatever, USA, Bud Light’s Big Party for a Few Fans

Festival kicks off today; brand sees benefits beyond attendees

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Last year Bud Light took experiential marketing to a new level with its secret party town, Whatever, USA, which turned Crested Butte, Colo., into a giant, all-expenses-paid beer bash for 1,000 of the Anheuser-Busch brand's lucky fans. The second annual Whatever, USA event kicks off today, this time on Catalina Island, off the coast of Los Angeles. 

Started as an extension of BBDO's "Up for Whatever," campaign, the weekend is filled with music, celebrities and various surprises, some of which made it into Bud Light's Super Bowl spot this year.

But why spend quite so much money—the brand hosts all the events, flies in all the attendees, puts them all up and last year paid the host city a reported $500,000—for an event that targets only 1,000 fans?

"Last year's Whatever, USA was a huge success," said Alex Lambrecht, vp of Bud Light. "While we'll have approximately 1,000 winners at Whatever, USA, the weekend's events will be enjoyed by those who are not here." 

The entire weekend will be recorded, Lambrecht said, adding that the brand will be posting to its social channels throughout the weekend. The content produced will also be used on Bud Light's social media channels later this summer, and Bud Light says it is possible that it will be used for future advertisements. 

"We're also hosting dozens of media outlets and producing thousands of pieces of content that will be shared on our social channels," said Lambrecht. 

By featuring the weekend's events on its social channels and in its marketing, it seems that the brand is hoping consumers aspire to be attendees of future Whatever, USA events.

That aspirational aspect factored into how consumers were chosen for this year's festival: The brand auditioned consumers, asking them to prove if they fit the weekend's ethos—to be "Up for Whatever"—through 15-second video auditions via social media or in-person events at bars and restaurants across the country. 

Lambrecht remained tight-lipped about what would be on the Whatever, USA agenda, but the event begins this afternoon.

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.