Food and beverage brands have a distinct advantage when it comes to product marketing: people love food, and people especially love free food. Getting people to try your product can be easy; all you have to do is give them the opportunity. Unfortunately, reaching your audience is often the hardest part. People are driven by convenience, so convincing them to come to your new restaurant or buy your brand at the grocery store instead of their usual brand can be tricky. That’s why many food and beverage brands have started investing in experiential marketing tours and events, which give consumers an incentive to try your product in a fun environment that meets them where they live, work, and play.
There is a lot that we can learn from brands, like Budweiser and Schwan's, that have pulled off successful activation tours within the food and beverage industry.
Bud & Burgers - Budweiser
Budweiser has an impressive history of experiential marketing campaigns. They’ve hosted hotel takeovers, festival pop-ups, sampling tours, and nearly any other high-exposure event you could think of -- all with great media success. One particularly media-friendly campaign was their Bud & Burgers tour, launched in 2015.
Since a great beer needs a great burger to accompany it, Budweiser paired up with award-winning chef, David Chang, to create a nation-wide competition to find the best amateur burger chef in the country. The competition began with contestants sending in photos and videos of their burgers with an explanation of why they deserved to be crowned the 2015 Bud & Burgers Champion. The judges then chose semi-finalists to compete at 10 Bud & Burgers Championship events. These events were hosted at various summer festivals across the country, where crowds could join to watch the festivities. Once the competition had been narrowed down, they were invited to compete at the finale event in Budweiser’s hometown, St. Louis. The winner was then chosen to compete as a contestant in the “United States of Burger” television show.
The beauty of this campaign was the different ways that Budweiser was able to incorporate media and event marketing seamlessly into a coherent campaign. The tour began and ended with media elements (first by asking contestants to send in photos and videos of their burgers, then by inviting the champion onto a television series), while updating followers through the #BudandBurgers hashtag along the way. It went a step further to incorporate in-person engagement through providing samples and inviting passers-by to watch the competition play out in real time at busy festivals and similar events.
In order to pull off the event portion of the campaign, Budweiser needed an inviting mobile kitchen in which to host the competition and draw in a crowd. That’s where Craftsmen Industries came in. We built Budweiser a 53-foot-tall double mobile stage trailer with a rooftop deck that featured railings and a bowtie awning. A red-faced, backlit sign that spells out “This Bud’s For You” is featured front and center along the trailer’s rooftop railings. Inside is a fully functioning kitchen where the amateur chefs created their signature burgers for the judges. The trailer is finished out with two custom, full-length wood bars with a four-compartment sink, racks for glass displays, under-counter keg coolers, a faux brick wall finish in the bar area, stainless steel kitchen wall finish, four Budweiser Signature Draught taps, and an interior spiral staircase that leads to the roof.
The Bud and Burgers campaign proved to be a success, with more than 68,000 individual firsthand experiences, 45,108 samples of signature draught served from the tour trailer, and more than 10 million estimated impressions on social media.
Tailgate Tower - Schwan’s
Schwan’s, a home delivery service for frozen meals, knew that they had to do something big for the 2018 Super Bowl since the game would be hosted in their home state of Minnesota. As a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, they sought to capitalize on the largest sporting event of the year, which happened to coincide with the company’s 65th anniversary.
To do this, Schwan’s, alongside creative agency Periscope, created an awareness building and fan-centric celebration of the company with a 45-foot-tall Tailgate Tower built from the iconic Schwan’s Trucks during the 10 day long Super Bowl Live fan festival. The concept behind the attraction was to create a giant interactive trivia video game for fans, with the trucks being used as giant displays for the trivia game participants. Meanwhile, other fans are invited to make their own digital bobbleheads and try samples of Schwan’s food.
This event was a success, giving visitors a chance to try Schwan’s food firsthand with their “Two Minute Drill” surprises, where brand ambassadors handed out featured food items like pasta, chicken bites and cookies, while also enhancing their brand image and memorability by incorporating the iconic Schwan’s Trucks into their display. Giving guests a chance to interact directly with their company left them with a personal connection to the Schwan’s brand that will stick with them longer than any traditional advertisement will.
Of course, the tower itself was eye-grabbing too. The 70,000 pound display, made from six yellow Schwan’s trucks and manufactured custom frames, featured a three-tier LED video wall that served as a platform for brand messaging, along with the interactive trivia game. It incorporated a custom-fabricated rooftop sign with Schwan’s name spanning the width of it as well as a tower stage where friendly brand ambassadors could interact with consumers. The brand saw great results from this 10-day event. As the centerpiece of the Super Bowl LIVE Fan Festival, it saw more than one million attendees and their philanthropic efforts benefitting Second Harvest Heartland provided 75,000 meals for families in need.
To find out more about how your food or beverage brand can reach new audiences in experiential settings, visit our website or reach out to one of our team members today!