Budweiser Serves Up Digital Drinks Through Facebook

In a move meant to engage younger Millennials just coming of drinking age, Budweiser’s parent company Anheuser-Busch has partnered with Facebook to create two 30-day pilot programs that will allow customers to digitally gift beer to friends through Facebook, text messages, or email.

“Buds for Buds” makes it possible to send a digital voucher for a Budweiser or Bud Light to a friend in either Denver or Chicago. “Bud Light Birthday” uses Facebook profile information to gift fans older than 21 a free beer on their special days.

The campaigns stem from Anheuser-Busch’s desire to reach out to and connect with the highly coveted Millennial demographic, says Allison Gabrys, client partner at AKQA, the agency responsible for the campaign.

When the beer giant approached AKQA about reaching out to customers in their 20s, the company did a full assessment of potential buyers’ habits and lifestyles. They found younger customers were spread across the country, often too far away from loved ones to celebrate milestones.

Digital beers are a way to create brand engagement while promoting the communal experience of having a beer, says Eamonn Dixon, associate creative director at AKQA. The brand is attempting to recreate “the essence of drinking a beer with someone even if you can’t be with them while “remaining respectful of the communication experience.”

By using Facebook data, Anheuser-Busch can target customers who have publically disclosed their birthday and year on their Timelines. “Through Facebook,” Gabrys says, “we know when someone’s turning 21 and we can say ‘Happy Birthday’ and buy them their first beer.”

Facebook users might also see posts in their News Feeds prompting them to send friends a free beer for their birthdays or to buy a Bud to celebrate another special occasion.

To simplify the promotions, users aren’t required to download an external application. When they click on the link to send a Bud to a friend, they’re asked to provide their contact information, their friend’s contact information, and a method of payment. Then the recipient receives a voucher to be honored with a government-issued I.D.

Vouchers are filled through Gratafy, a platform that partners with merchants in six cities for in-venue mobile redemption. Currently there are 80 bars and restaurants in Chicago and Denver that allow recipients to claim their gifts. Gratafy provides a geo-targeted list of participating merchants by neighborhood so that users need only chose a destination to receive their beers.

The 30-day trial of Buds for Buds and Bud Light Birthday ends on October 10, but soon customers all over the country might be able to participate. According to Gabrys, Buds for Buds is expected to roll out nationwide sometime in October and will offer a broader selection of beers from the Anheuser-Busch portfolio.

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