A Beer for Button Bashers

Author: James “Plague” Inks
Co-edited by: DoubleYeti

Nothing like a beer and good video game session after a tough week, or sometimes just a tough day. With more and more non-endemic (a fancy marketing word for an “outsider”) brands putting money into gaming it’s not surprising that the alcohol industry would be looking for a way into the gaming industry, which is a 23.6$ Billion dollar US market*. A few non-endemic brands have had success: Geico’s sponsorship of Team Solo Mid (TSM) is cleaver and effective; Buffalo Wild Wings’ Titanfall 2 campaign was subtle, but it was great to see gaming in a traditional sports bar. Despite the success of other industries, beer brands have had a tough time generating sustainable buzz from gamers around their brands. It just doesn’t make sense, gamers love beer! You don’t have to browse Twitch long before finding a streamer enjoying a cold one. So why don’t we see more beer brands sponsoring teams or incorporating games into their marketing campaigns? I think it’s that beer brands aren’t sure how to approach gamers. eSports fans are not like the traditional sports fans that these companies are used to selling to. To explore this further, let’s take a look at Bud Light and the Bud Light All Stars campaign.

Hey Now, You’re A Bud Light All-Star

The Bud Light All-Stars Campaign launched in May of 2016 allowing fans to vote on and select who would make the All Stars team from a variety of games, including DotA 2, Counter Strike, Heroes of the Storm, and others. In October of 2016 Bud Light had a massive presence at TwitchCon featuring a VIP area with DJs during the day, lunching tournaments around their All Stars at the event, and even being the name sponsor of one of the TwitchCon after parties featuring Snoop Dogg and Shaquille O’Neal. Unfortunately, Since the October event the Bud Light eSports Twitter has largely gone silent, the Bud Light eSports website lacks content, and I haven’t seen any meaningful advertising for the team that was once featured in beautiful limos, a mansion in a beautiful location, and in BAD ASS custom jackets…

The Bud Light All-Stars Campaign launched in May of 2016 allowing fans to vote on and select who would make the All Stars team from a variety of games, including DotA 2, Counter Strike, Heroes of the Storm, and others. In October of 2016 Bud Light had a massive presence at TwitchCon featuring a VIP area with DJs during the day, lunching tournaments around their All Stars at the event, and even being the name sponsor of one of the TwitchCon after parties featuring Snoop Dogg and Shaquille O’Neal. Unfortunately, Since the October event the Bud Light eSports Twitter has largely gone silent, the Bud Light eSports website lacks content, and I haven’t seen any meaningful advertising for the team that was once featured in beautiful limos, a mansion in a beautiful location, and in BAD ASS custom jackets…

Bud Lights Out

What happened? It seems like Bud Light has put the brakes on the All-Stars? We don’t know exactly what Bud Light wanted to accomplish with the All-Stars but it seems obvious that the effort has been abandoned. I have to assume the campaign failed to achieve its goals – why back away from one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the United States if it’s working? Why did this campaign fail? What did they miss?

I think it’s an issue of brand selection. Bud Light has a few things working against it with the 21+ gaming audience. First of all, it’s a light macro beer, and while not all gamers are living unhealthy lifestyles, by and large we aren’t exactly known for having the healthiest habits and definitely aren’t counting calories. In general, gamers are going to gravitate toward the heavier, more calorie-dense craft beer selections. Why? Live streaming and the rise of lifestyle brands in gaming have driven a wave of gamers expressing themselves and their individuality through the clothes they wear, the games they play, and of course, the beers they drink. The beer we drink is an expression of our personality and with eSports driving a hardcore “grind hard, sleep less, git gud” mentality, light beers are going to have a hard time fitting the hardcore gaming lifestyle.  Bud Light is also heavily ingrained in traditional sport culture and for the 21+ year old audience this creates issues. If you are over 21 and consider yourself a hardcore or lifelong gamer now, you were probably not a “cool kid” growing up. The traditional sport jocks used to pick on us for building computers in our basements, staying inside and playing video games on weekends, and talking about our Pokemon card wish list with a close circle of friends. Older gamers identify with being on social fringes, which resonates with the micro and craft brew audience more than the macro brew landscape that Bud Light represents. Bud Light is the beer of the people that used to pick on me growing up! It’s the official beer of the NFL and it’s drunk by more sports fans than any other beer. It’s certainly not a part of my identity now and it’s not a surprise that it has a hard time bridging the gap between traditional sport and eSport.

A Beer for Gamers

Anheuser-Busch and other beer manufacturers absolutely have a place in gaming and more importantly, I WANT THESE BRANDS IN GAMING. (Have I mentioned that I love beer?) So how does Anheuser-Busch break into mini-fridges of gamers everywhere? It’s going to require some clever marketing (again, see GEICO’s TSM ads), and probably the use of their craft brands or lesser known brands. My recommendation is Anheuser-Busch’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co: Apocalypse IPA brand. By the name alone this could easily be the preferred beer of vault hunters everywhere. The apocalypse theme runs far and wide in the gaming world and what is more hardcore than the end of the world? I’d love to see Apocalypse IPA in the hands of gamers, but the brand is currently marketed to the west coast outdoorsy type folk and so would need some adapting. Other possible candidates to push toward a gaming audience are the Shock Top or Oculto brands.  Shock Top’s name and the fact they use a mohawk clad orange as a mascot already touch on gamers desire to express their individuality, not to mention its fruity and accessible taste. The skull-centric Oculto brand, with its unique bottle design, stands out from the crowd on shelves much like many gamers want to stand out from the crowd in real life.

Gamers want beer, but not just any beer, we want a beer for gamers. Pour some out for the Bud Light All-Stars and lift your eyes to the horizon, a beer for us is out there, my friends…. it’s just a matter of time.

*Source: New Zoo: US Games Market

Have an opinion on this article? Let us know in the comments below or contact the Author on social media! You can also Join our Discord!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *