Numbers Don’t Lie: Budweiser’s New Beer Campaign Could Make America Great Again

Numbers Don’t Lie: Budweiser’s New Beer Campaign Could Make America Great Again

The numbers are in and the results aren’t even close: Budweiser is going to help Donald Trump Make America Great Again.

You know, a lot of things things have recently slipped past the point of parody — in politics, culture, and commerce. I don’t have to list the political ones. You know what I’m talking about. And now the King of Beers — Budweiser — is swapping out its brand name for the name “America” this summer.

A year ago, I would have thought, “Well, that’s a crazy overreach.” Not in the brave new world of 2016. Makes perfect sense. Bud will be called “America.”

So I guess the results of our latest clinical message trial shouldn’t have come as any great surprise. It did at first. I’ll admit it. But it’s all starting to make sense now.

At Evolving Strategies, an analytical firm that helps companies better understand how human behavior impacts their bottom line, we conducted an experiment to test the effectiveness of a pro-macro-brew ad by Budweiser (“Brewed the Hard Way”) and pro-craft-brew ad by Oregon brewery Ninkasi with a sample of over 2,100 voters in Wisconsin (April 26-27).

We wanted to see how the ads impacted beer-buying behavior and brand attitudes, and the ads do shift some of those. But we also threw in some political questions. You know, just for fun.

It turns out that the Budweiser ad gives Donald Trump a boost. A big one. No, not with men — with women. It increases the female vote for Trump over Hillary by +8 points.

But that’s understating what’s going on. Pretty much all of the movement comes from Republican women. Republican women move +18 points toward Trump and away from Clinton. Huge movement.

Bottom line — Budweiser’s ads are Making America Great Again.

Let’s get the technical questions out of the way for those of you who are thinking about them (everyone else, just read this to say, “it’s really real, really”). The numbers check out, statistically. No weird drop-off between conditions. Robust to different specifications of the model, from no control variables to lots of them. It certainly looks as real as anything we’ve seen before.

And this year, why not? Why shouldn’t a Budweiser ad help Trump more than most political ads? A year ago, I would have thought, “Well this is just crazy.” Not in 2016. Makes perfect sense.

I know what you’re all thinking. “Uh, wha … why do Budweiser ads Make America Great Again?” The short answer is that we don’t really know. The longer answer is a series of educated guesses.

Pretty much all the impact comes from self-identified Republican women shifting back to a Party they would — in normal times — support. Needless to say, these are not normal times.

Only 60 percent of the Republican women in the control group (they didn’t watch the Bud ad) say they’ll vote for Trump, but that jumps up to 78 percent among Republican women who watched the Bud ad. These women would be pretty solid Republican voters in normal elections, and they are primed to move back to their Party’s nominee.

Taking a closer look, the Bud ad hits some powerful emotional buttons, themes, and stereotypes. The voiceover claims Bud is “proudly a macro brew” over a driving, stripped down, thumping soundtrack (piss off — we are who we are, and if you don’t like it, too friggin bad).

Quick cuts flash by — the pounding hooves of huge, strong Clydesdales, majestic trees, swinging axes, red …

The voiceover says Bud isn’t “brewed to be fussed over” and is “brewed for drinking not dissecting” (you’re the one who should be embarrassed, not us, you little sissy). More red, sissy men, manly men, red, large machines, victory cheers, steam, welding sparks.

It ends with a parting shot: “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds” (you’re beer is lame and so are you, we’re awesome, so there). More sissy men, manly men, logos, red, logos, red.

I’m stretching a bit here, but bear with me … what Party is most associated with the stereotype of a fussy, condescending, sissy man? And which Party goes with the stereotype of a no-nonsense, prideful, manly-man? How do these stereotypes feel about each other?

Again, I don’t know why I was surprised at first. It all makes sense to me now.

Everyone is wondering whether Trump is doomed because of his “women problem.” This test shows Trump can make up ground with some female voters pretty easily, even (because?) with an ad that has nothing to do with politics.

Of course, it’s with voters Trump should already have in his pocket. Will they be enough to Make America Great Again? Maybe, if Bud keeps its ad spend up through Election Day.

It makes perfect sense.

Adam B. Schaeffer, Ph.D., is founder and CSO of Evolving Strategies LLC and ES Partners LLC. Follow him on Twiter at @adam_schaeffer.
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