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Budweiser tests Facebook promotions with mobile-only redemption

The Bud Light Birthday and Buds for Buds promotions debuted in Chicago and Denver, with plans calling for a national rollout by year-end. Anheuser-Busch is touting the effort as the first campaign allowing people to virtually gift beer to others online for in-person redemption.

“This entire experience for both of these promotions was designed to be mobile-first,” said Ryan Halper, chief operating officer and co-founder of Gratafy, the Seattle-based vendor that is partnering with Anheuser-Busch and Facebook on the effort. “It is a Web-based promotion using responsive design so it renders on smartphones, tablets or desktop, but part of the experience, the redemption, only functions on mobile.

“There is no redemption on desktop. Once you go into a restaurant or bar to collect your beer, it is 100 percent a mobile-centric experience.”

Through the Bud Light Birthday promotion, Facebook users will be prompted to send a free beer to friends on their birthday, while the Buds for Buds promotion allows users to buy a beer for friends for any occasion. The programs were developed in partnership with AKQA, Anheuser-Busch’s digital innovation agency of record, and Facebook’s Creative Shop, along with Gratafy, which handles the delivery and redemption of the vouchers.

Easy to redeem
One of the key elements to the campaign is that it is relatively easy for beer recipients to redeem their vouchers. Once they receive their gift, they click on a button to redeem it and are sent a three-digit code that servers input into their POS terminals.

Nearly 80 bars and restaurants in the two markets are participating in the promotions. Gratafy works with about 600 retail partners nationwide.


The system uses a three-digit code for redemption.

Mr. Halper said that unlike Gratafy’s other promotions, the Anheuser-Busch efforts will allow gift recipients to choose the location where they wish to redeem their beer. Traditionally it is the gifter who makes that selection, he said.

Budweiser has been at the forefront of social media marketing. Its innovative Twitter tie-in with the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament was one high-profile example from earlier this year (see story).

Last year, Bud Light Platinum partnered with Justin Timberlake to create a scavenger hunt that blended the real world with mobile and social to give fans a chance to win a Platinum Nights trip to see the musician perform (see story).

The latest Facebook promotions provide a highly personalized communication vehicle for Anheuser-Busch.

“With the birthday promotion, Bud Light is able to reach out through Facebook and buy a beer for people for their birthday,” Mr. Halper said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for brands to use our platform in an experiential campaign.”

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York