Craig Morris , November 05, 2019

Wild Alaska Pollock and Budweiser Have More in Common than Beer-Battered Fish and Chips

In case you missed it, last week my home team, the Washington Nationals, won the World Series for the first time. And they did it in the most surprising and unusual way: winning only the away games in a spectacular underdog-like fashion. It was an incredible week to say the least, both because of the National’s big win but also because the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock producers held its first-ever Wild Alaska Pollock Annual Meeting. Top billing certainly goes to the success of our first Annual Meeting, but I have to say it was the icing on the cake to celebrate the Nats epic win just two nights later.

While there were so many stories that came out of this fairytale end to the baseball season (and believe me, I’ve watched and read them all), perhaps none was more captivating than the story of “the Beer Guy,” a D.C. resident by the name of Jeff Adams who held on to two tall cans of beer as a home run ball smacked him in the chest during Game 5 of the world Series. The moment that Sunday night was caught on live TV and went viral within hours.

A Bud Light staffer was watching Game 5 when they saw Adams, who was standing under a Budweiser sign, grip a beer can in each hand as the ball walloped him. The staffer used WhatsApp to message the marketing team. Minutes later, a tweet appeared on Bud Light’s account. “This man is a hero. Twitter please figure out who this guy is so we can reward him. #WorldSeries,” it said, with a four-second gif of the moment.

Bud Light proceeded to spend the next several hours working to track down Adams (who didn’t have social media) in order to reward him for his death grip on their beer. By Monday night, Bud Light had arranged for Adams and a friend to fly to Houston to attend Game 6 on Tuesday night. While they were there, the beer company ran a 15-second ad on TV showing Adams hold on to the beers. “Not all heroes wear capes. Or gloves,” it said.

Now, a week later, the Bud Light marketing team estimates the net worth of this fateful moment at more than 8 million dollars in ad deliverables and publicity. And that’s only the beginning.

Fact, serendipitous moments don’t come along like this every day. But when they do—they are authentic, compelling gold that can carry a brand forward.

So why was Bud Light able to capitalize on this moment and what does this have to do with Wild Alaska Pollock? Sure, the young marketing maven happened to be watching the world series when Adams took one to the chest and didn’t bother to drop his beer first. Right place, right time. But Bud Light also had the system in place to allow for that young marketing exec to recognize the moment and seize upon it by alerting his teammates and the broader organization.

But more than just having an early notification system in place and good internal communication, what truly allowed for Bud Light to capitalize on this was a deep-seeded understanding of its brand. Of who they are and what they stand for. The fact that they could turn those seconds of footage into actionable messaging and advertising in mere minutes takes a core understanding of their inherent value proposition, of their audience and of what resonates: authenticity and Americana.

At our first-ever Annual Meeting last week we unveiled the preliminary results of our comprehensive consumer research, all designed to understand which of our fish’s attributes are most motivating to consumers and why.

For some of our members, this exhaustive focus on research may not appear to be yielding immediate results, and that can be frustrating. But—if we want to be a powerhouse brand like Bud Light, with both consumer awareness and familiarity, we have to lay the foundation and do the legwork. We have to play the long game.

Bud Light’s marketing team no doubt works tirelessly to understand their consuming audience and make sure every piece of marketing that leaves their doors is relevant to that audience. We’re just starting to understand ours. Bud Light’s team works to ensure that they are all pulling in the same direction and being consistent. We’re working on toolkits and messaging manuals so that we can start to all talk about our fish in the same way. Consistency and repetition are key. Bud Light’s team has excitement and truly believes in their brand. They live and breathe their beer.

We have evangelists who, up until now, have largely been rudderless. Our industry has the same love, passion and excitement around our fish that Adams had about protecting and preserving his precious beers—we just have to harness it.

Serendipitous moments are going to happen with our fish. More and more people are going to start to talk about us and our attributes. And we have to be ready to pounce on those moments and amplify them tenfold.

This Bud’s for you, Wild Alaska Pollock fans. We’re coming for you.  

 

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