Is There Any Such Thing as Bad PR? Ask Bud Light Lime.
Bud Light Lime is not the world’s worst tasting beer. There’s always worse. Think Keystone, Miller High Life and National Bohemian. Being a Baltimore native, I can include the latter (affectionately called Natty Bo) without hesitation or remorse. Yet somehow, Bud Light Lime finds itself skewered on late-night TV time and time again. Most recently and notably, none other than John Oliver used the brew as leverage to help hoist the embattled FIFA president out of his notoriously contentious seat. Or out of public opinion if nothing else. Did it work? Who knows what or who really ousted FIFA’s Sepp Blatter, but Oliver made good on his word.
After painfully tasting a sampler plate of McD’s $1 menu offering, the Brit didn’t just drink a Bud Light Lime as promised, he walked into what appeared to be a fully sponsored party complete with bikinis, beach balls and plenty of signage and made good on his promise: he shot-gunned a Bud Light Lime.
This begs the question, is any PR better than no PR? Especially considering just prior to his reluctant endorsement, Oliver compared Bud Light Lime to many creatively awful things including “a lime Jolly Rancher fished out of Mickey Rourke’s mouth.” Major credit to Oliver and the show’s writers on that one.
Former and fellow Daily Show veteran, Stephen Colbert, also chose Bud Light Lime out of slew of cheap beers aimed for the college masses, and featured it many times on his now much-missed show, the Colbert Report. Calling it “the manliest fruit flavored lager on the market,” Colbert reached for it time and time again during various segments and always as comic relief.
Budweiser maintains they are not paying for this product placement, which probably simply delights their marketing execs since they appear to be backward endorsements akin to the compliment variety.
Because at the end of the day, the show, the series or segment, what matters in this case is the number of impressions.
The jabs at the brand are harmless, funny and viral. I alone have mentioned Bud Light Lime now 6 times in just this article with a fraction of the reach as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I’ve passed on the segment to friends, beer drinkers, marketers and more. Based on YouTube alone, that segment will be viewed over 3 million times.
So even if “Bud Light Lime tastes like your tongue is angry with you,” the bad brew wins. At sporting and lifestyle events, that same footprint with that level of eyeballs would cost millions and never see the viral cash cow. If they aren’t already, the lucky marketeers at Bud Light Lime should be sending a delightful and clever care package to Oliver and show staffers every Monday.