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By Kenneth Hein, US Editor

June 30, 2021 | 4 min read

Actor Bill Pullman revisits one of his most famous scenes to celebrate our independence from the coronavirus and the confines of our own homes. Budweiser’s epic new ad and a free beer offer aims to raise vaccine awareness and education in partnership with the humanitarian organization Direct Relief.

Budweiser pledged to buy the United States ‘a round on us’ if it hit the White House’s 70% vaccination goal by July 4. While this target won’t be met, the iconic American brewer decided we all deserved a free Bud anyway. Beginning Friday, legal drinking age consumers can go to to get their free beverage.

To celebrate a moment when America finally can get together in-person and hoist a Budweiser, the brand created an epic 2+ minute ad starring Independence Day actor Bill Pullman. Titled ’Go Fourth, America’, the spot celebrates our freedom “from being cooped up while baking bread and ignoring basic hygiene.”

Instead of defeating aliens, Pullman calls for Americans to defeat Covid-19 together. “Whether you drive a pickup or a hybrid. You live in the heartland or on the coasts. Or whether you pronounce it America or ‘Merica. We are all Americans. Seldom on the same page but reading from the same book... on holidays, anyway.” It signs off with a call-to-action to “join us in supporting vaccine access everywhere in partnership with Direct Relief,” which promotes vaccine awareness and education across the globe.

This new effort is consistent with Budweiser’s 2021 brand mission to promote vaccine access and awareness. It kept the Clydesdales in the stable during this year’s Super Bowl, instead using the funds to promote vaccines. It was the first time in 37 years that Budweiser sat out the big game. It followed up with the ’Reunited Buds’ spot in April, which brought out the horses and a puppy to promote vaccinations. It gave away free beer to consumers who shared proof of vaccination.

The July 4 campaign takes it to a new level by offering the entire country a complimentary quaff. “Over the past year, Budweiser has taken a leadership role in the fight against Covid-19 – from sitting out the Super Bowl in order to redirect funds to vaccine awareness campaigns to sharing a ’reunited with Buds’ film to recognize the safe return to bars post-vaccination,” Daniel Blake, group vice-president of marketing for Budweiser and Value at Anheuser-Busch, told The Drum. “Now, Budweiser is helping consumers commemorate all the progress made so far, with a film that reprises an iconic character played by Bill Pullman in time for the Fourth of July. America has put in the work and now it’s time to celebrate with family and friends with a beer in hand.”

Bud’s efforts have been well-received, however it remains to be seen if they will move the needle with sales. In 1988, one-in-every-four beers consumed in the US was a Bud. Now it is one-in-20, per Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights: “Budweiser is an iconic American brand. It still has symbolism. In that regard it is powerful. What it is doing is commendable. In terms of getting more consumers to drink it, that’s been a tough challenge.”

Whether it was light beers, imports, crafts or now hard seltzers, all have cannibalized Bud sales in a category that is flat. “It’s just math,” says Steinman. Beer Marketer’s Insights has 2020 Bud sales down 4.7% to 10.05m. Off-premise (supermarket, convenience store and other retail) sales were down 9%, per IRI. However, the return of on-premise (bars, ballparks and restaurants) should paint a stouter sales picture for the year.

No matter what the sales situation, Budweiser sees this Independence Day as a moment to celebrate… and everyone is invited.

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