Official Fifa World Cup sponsor Budweiser is going all in on Snapchat as part of its biggest ever marketing push for the tournament. And while other alcohol brands are cautious of targeting the app's younger demographic, Bud said it's confident it won’t serve its content to under-18s.
Budweiser is poised to go big on Snap, and will this week (18 June) unveil a number of global AR lenses, filters and vertical video ads to drive buzz around its involvement in the biggest football tournament on the planet – including the first ever ‘sound activated’ AR lens.
Its commitment is a coup for Snap, which this year faced scrutiny when drinks behemoth Diageo froze spend indefinitely with the messaging app following concerns around the efficacy of Snapchat’s age-verification policies.
Diageo's decision came after UK ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), banned a promotional lens from the alcohol giant's rum brand Captain Morgan for being likely to appeal to consumers under the legal UK drinking age.
Since the ruling, Captain Morgan has asserted it was in "no discussion" about working with the company in the future.
As with other social media platforms, age is effectively self-reported on Snapchat, with signals also being used to confirm the accuracy of supplied information; including interest-based and behavioural data.
However, Sascha Cordes, Budweiser’s senior brand manager, told The Drum that it was constantly revaluating its own guidelines around digital ads to ensure the brand’s promotions were never served to children. He added that he was also confident in Snapchat’s reassurances that the World Cup partner's ads wouldn’t reach the wrong eyeballs.
“We’re working very closely together to make sure that those criteria are met and that they’re in line with our expectations," he added.
At the time of the Diageo controversy, Snapchat said that since that particular campaign ran last summer it had introduced more more options for age targeting have been made available for advertisers.
'Lighting up' the World Cup
The brand's Snapchat push will be tied to its wider 'Light Up The World Cup' campaign, which looks to celebrate the players who "light up" the pitch and bring fans as close to the action as possible.
Cordes was coy about what the sound-activated AR lens will look like ("we're playing with the light up creative here a little") but did reveal that it would be launching in the UK on 18 June, then globally on 24 June during England's second match against Panama. Budweiser didn't clarify whether there would be Snapchat activations on the ground in Russia.
A second element of the initiative will see the brewer adopt the app's new 'snappables' tool, which let's multiple users try out the selfie AR lenses with their friends in real-time. This, teased Cordes, will let Snappers invite pals to be in "their squad" riffing off the classic team line-up at the start of each match.
Then, as well as vertical Snap ads, the brand is developing reactive filters that let fans keep track of the score and share their reactions to it, in-app. This activiation will also allow them capture their excitement before kick-off or show their joy or heartache after the final whistle.
To measure all this, Budweiser is setting up a "brand tracker" which in tandem with Snapchat will let it see metrics around how engagement translates into real-world sales.
"For us, this is the perfect addition to our media plan," said Cordes, "we were looking for something that allowed us to always be reactive and at consumers' fingertips, and catching the euphoria and energy [around the tournament]"
Alongside creative tools on Snapchat, Budweiser has extended the campaign offline – printing Snapcodes on specially-designed influencer packs that unlock exclusive Snapchat filters.
These packs were distributed pre-tournament, while Snapchat also featured at Budweiser’s first Bud Boat Party of the tournament in London. Attendees were able to use a custom Snapbooth to take digital and physical pictures as they cruised down the Thames on opening night.
Budweiser has launched the Bud Boat as part of its official sponsorship of the game in Russia. The boat boasts three floors with screens to watch the football, booths to host DJs and bars to pour beer from, you can see it in action above.