Marketing Darwinism: Is Anheuser-Busch’s $40M Gamble on Digital Content Moving Online Marketing Forward or Back?

Bud_canThis Sunday New York Times Magazine will run a piece titled “Brew Tube” that focuses on Monday’s launch of, an effort of A&B’s marketing team to reach the young and wired demographic with a marketer owned channel of original digital content. I read the article with some skepticism as to the effect that this strategy will have to convert the target demo to drinkers of Bud & Bud Light. Last year they paid Jay-Z to change the fortunes of Budweiser but market share still slipped 7.5%.

I’m not skeptical that the site can be successful in producing genuinely interesting and unique content or engaging an audience. Certainly the web is the best medium in this regard and Anheuser-Busch has hired some talented folks on that end. But still reeks to me as Marketing 1.0 not the Marketing 2.0 that the NYTimes and other notables have positioned it as.

I feel this way because there is simply no testing that has been done to validate the strategy and its impact. I feel this way because there is no way to collect and analyze data as to the performance of the strategy. I feel this way because as was reading the article this quote from stood out:

“Marketers don’t always have to prove two plus two equals four. You have to go sometimes with your instincts and your gut judgment and your years of experience.”

I did a bit of research on Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch’s Vice President of Global Media and Sports and it seems this is not the first time he has shown his lack of digital marketing acumen. In the fall had an interview with him where he uttered:

“I don’t think you want to allow measurement to override creativity and the adventure of new media.”

Oh wait, there’s more:

“Can we be in six months what YouTube is? Bud.TV is unknown today, but with our marketing and awareness programs that reach is not an unreasonable objective for the first 90 days.”

Uh, yes Tony, that is an unreasonable objective. Especially when this wall greets users when they hit the domain.


There are some interesting strategies that are measurable and can help optimize this digital offereing. I explored some of these ideas in my last Branding & Search session at SES. I have also blogged about beverage branding in the digital world before. But let’s take a look simply at how A&B’s “wired” consumers feel about your brands (note BUD is the ticker symbol for A&B so that likely contributes higher impressions:


Those spikes you see are the Super Bowl. It’s no accident that the channel is launching tomorrow to take advantage of the heightened interest. It will be interesting to see if there are any paid search ads that leverage this increase in search volume to help build and get more people drinking Budweiser. Something tells me it’s not going to happen when your Marketing leaders belittle testing, optimization and measurement.

3 thoughts on “Marketing Darwinism: Is Anheuser-Busch’s $40M Gamble on Digital Content Moving Online Marketing Forward or Back?

  1. Wow. What a terrible strategy. Shows a complete ignorance of the landscape. Maybe Tony needs to read some analysis of what made YouTube successful.
    This will be a major major flop. If I could “short” this like a stock, I would in a heartbeat.
    Predicted stats: 50% bounce rate on useless splash page. 70% bounce rate on registration page.


  2. Wow is right. Tony wants me to hand over a long form’s worth of personal registration information without establishing a value proposition first? I wouldn’t even say that is Web 1.0 strategy. It’s no strategy.
    A better tactic would have been to leverage YouTube’s platform. Obviously you are not going to compete with them. They should have developed a top tier partnership with YouTube and run a huge promotion rewarding people for creating ‘Bud’ themed videos for the Superbowl and such.


  3. Buy a Business to Create Your Economy

    If you want to hit the ground hard and fast you might want to go towards the purchase of an established company with a record of evidence of progress. If it works, trusted employees and an operating system you are already in place. Different types of b…


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