For Bud Light, Even Announcing Ingredient and Nutrition Labels Is a Regal Affair

By royal decree, the brewer takes the lead on voluntary disclosure

The king and his crew are back for a series of new ads from Bud Light and Wieden + Kennedy New York. Bud Light
Headshot of Katie Richards

Your favorite cast of medieval characters, made famous by Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly,” campaign is back! Thank you, Bud Light. The brand launched two new spots as part of a larger announcement that Bud Light packaging is about to have a new look. Beginning in February, the brand will start using ingredient labels and on-pack serving facts as part of an effort to be more transparent with beer drinkers.

The move makes Bud Light the first major U.S. beer brand to embrace this kind of comprehensive label, which some consumer and health advocates have been requesting for years from the beer industry.

“We are pleased. And in addition to providing something that consumers are looking for, the second thing is, we are damn pleased by what we use as ingredients in Bud Light,” says Andy Goeler, vp of marketing for Bud Light.

While you won’t hear the king or any town criers yelling “Dilly Dilly!” in these spots, you can expect all the familiar characters. “We created that medieval world with the creation of Dilly Dilly, and it has really built some good equity for us,” Goeler says. “People are used to seeing the medieval world it gives us an opportunity to really have fun with the brand because we are able to develop a series of characters that are just fun to listen to and watch, and as we are having fun these characters deliver a brand message for us.”

One spot, “King’s Speech,” features the realm’s beloved king, reciting his exciting announcement to his not-so-attentive scribe.

The second, “Arrows,” brings back the Bud Knight and a whole bunch of townspeople blindly shooting arrows with the new ingredients label attached to them from the castle walls. Now, it may seem like a truly great way to spread the word about the ingredients in Bud Light, shooting arrows and not looking where you shoot them, but the wise Bud Knight suggests a better tactic. Bud Light worked with agency partner Wieden + Kennedy New York  on the spots.

Outside of listing the four ingredients used to make Bud Light—water, barley, rice and hops—the packaging will also include details on serving size, calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates, sugars and protein. For Goeler, one of the best parts of adding the labels is “seeing all of those zeros” on the boxes. Goeler hopes the news will set a standard for beer companies to think about being transparent with their products as well.

If you’re wondering why alcohol hasn’t already had the same kind of nutritional labels you’d find on just about any other food or drink in U.S. stores, the answer goes back nearly 100 years to the end of Prohibition. While the FDA regulates most foods and drinks, alcohol is overseen by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. That group has never required comprehensive nutrition and ingredient labeling, though in 2013, it issued a ruling supporting “voluntary nutrient content statements in the labeling and advertising of wines, distilled spirits and malt beverages.”

A few years later, the Beer Institute trade group launched the Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative. While beer traditionally has the same few ingredients, some health advocates have supported nutrient labeling to make brewers more transparent about the number of calories in each serving. So it’s perhaps not too surprising that a light beer would lead the pack on embracing a more detailed label.

Bud Light is taking a “two-pronged” approach to promoting the news, according to Goeler. A majority of the advertising will feature its fictional medieval realm and the previously mentioned spots, but part of the plan includes straightforward product shots that include the new labeling.

Consumers will start to see the new packaging in February, but Goeler says it will take some time to roll it out across all markets. “Bud Light is a very large brand, and it is brewed in 12 different local breweries around the country, so the timing of getting the packaging that includes this label is a very big challenge,” he said.

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@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.