By Carlo Versano
In an era of brands doing more social impact marketing to stand out in a crowded online conversation, Budweiser saw an opportunity with the 100th birthday of the late Jackie Robinson to do something special, tied to the opening of the 2019 MLB season.
So the beer giant hired a giant of Hollywood ー Spike Lee ー fresh off his first Oscar win to produce a short film telling the story of Robinson, who famously broke the baseball color barrier when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
That film, appropriately titled "Impact," is a "beautiful connection between past and present," according to Ricardo Marques, Budweiser's vice president of marketing.
Marques said Budweiser is also launching a corresponding ad campaign and a fundraising push for the Jackie Robinson Museum, which is set to open in New York City later this year. The beer label will make a special edition bottle and donate 42 cents ー the number on the back of Robinson's jersey ー to the museum.
Consumers, particularly younger consumers, want to support brands that act with purpose and sustainability, Marques said, noting Bud's recent announcement that it would brew all its beer with renewable energy.
"You need to be on your game bringing stuff that is truly relevant for today's drinker," he said.
Budweiser faces increasing competition on both ends: consumers gravitating toward lower-calorie beers or local, craft beers. Yet Marques said the brand's momentum is strong, it's defending its market share, and adding "innovations" like its Budweiser Reserve lager series. And come Opening Day, the brand will be top of mind for baseball fans as it kicks off its Jackie Robinson campaign.
"We celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things," Marques said.