Bar Games

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Anheuser-Busch has a new bar buddy: Microsoft Corp. The two collaborate on an on-premise campaign that brings Xbox games to bars and clubs with Budweiser. The 100-market effort stages 1,200 events a week through yearend, courtesy of 300 A-B wholesalers. It’s “the start of an ongoing marketing relationship for Anheuser-Busch and Xbox,” says Cindy Spodek Dickey, group manager for Xbox at Redmond, WA-based Microsoft.

The collaboration gives Microsoft an uncluttered venue to reach adults 21-plus with games from Microsoft Game Studios.

Bargoers can join open play for a chance to win Xbox systems and coupons. Co-branded P-O-P and premiums support. A-B handles execution; Microsoft supplies 300-plus Xbox systems and RCA Vport TVs to host games. Momentum North America, St. Louis, handled some creative.

Bars have become a hot venue for event marketing, but few brands outside of alcohol and tobacco have staged events there. A-B opens doors for Microsoft and lends its wholesaler network — the arms and legs of on-premise promotion. In exchange, Budweiser gets a halo of hipness from Xbox. It’s common for beer brands to bring entertainment partners on-premise; A-B’s own 1 Night Stand fall campaign brought rock band Nickelback to small venues in 12 markets, with ticket giveaways in bars. But this is the first time a videogame brand has joined a beer brand on-premise. “It’s hard to know if the association between the game system and the beer will carry over when people have left the bar,” says John Rodwan, editorial director for Beverage Marketing Corp., New York City. A-B’s volume share hit 50.5 percent in 2001 and keeps growing; No. 2 Miller’s share was just over 20 percent and is falling, Rodwan says.

Microsoft has honed its event marketing skills since the $500 million launch of Xbox last year, with the impressive Xbox Odyssey tour (two semi-trailers opened into a mobile game park with 200 video stations and a lounge) and Xbox Unleashed, a two-day gaming marathon in New York City and Los Angeles. GMR Marketing, New Berlin, WI, handled both campaigns, which won Reggies this year.

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