Cannes Lions

Budweiser Jackie Robinson Impact

VIZEUM, New York / AB INBEV / 2019

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With the overall lager beer category facing declining sales year-on-year, Budweiser is continuously challenged with driving long-term distinction and preference amongst consumers. How can the “King of Beers” become synonymous with the best of America in a way that ensures lasting cultural relevance and meaning amongst existing and new audiences?

Given today’s cultural climate and the rising resonance of “innovative nostalgia”, Bud aimed to identify key cultural moments that, even if rooted in the past, are every bit as relevant today as they were back then. We honed in on four key questions:

-Tension, is this relevant in culture?

-Talk Value, how much attention is being paid to this moment?

-Brand Connection, does Bud play a role and have a right to talk about this?

-Audience, does this reach a wide and relevant audience to our goals?


2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of baseball legend, Jackie Robinson – the icon who on April 15, 1947 first took to the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers as #42 – breaking the color barrier to become the first African-American to play in the major leagues. Couple this remarkable moment with Budweiser’s century-long love of the great American pastime, baseball, and consider the brand’s long history of championing our nation’s greatest – raising a Bud to ordinary people doing extraordinary things – and you have powerful inspiration for our idea this season.

We had to raise our Bud to the icon who changed the sport and the nation. We set this all set against a larger cultural backdrop that’s every bit as relevant today as it was then – the push for equality and the championing of those who break barriers to push culture forward.


We leveraged M1, our people-based platform powered by Merkle, to help define key Budweiser audience segments – from retain to recruit and explore territories. We then identified those with relevant passions and interests and honed in on media habits, attitudes and behaviors. We cross-referenced audience-rich markets with the presence of major league baseball teams, game timings and stadium locations to identify key areas and opportunities for deepening our impact.

Armed with a deep understanding of audience conversations and interests, we tapped relationships with Spike Lee, the MLB and the Jackie Robinson Foundation to define rich, creative media activations that would deliver lasting, purpose-driven impact.

We let everyone know that 42 cents of each limited edition #42 Budweiser bottle sold would go to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation. We further directed people to to experience Spike Lee’s film and learn more about Budweiser’s commitment to the community.


Our goal was to get the film, content and imagery out in as many channels as possible in the right timeframe and context. We created a 360 holistic plan that was included in 10+ channels (MLB/NBA TV, Cinema, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, MLB channels, Static OOH billboards/buses, Digital OOH Link/Billboards, print/newspapers, Search, in MLB stadium video) with National overlay, but heavying up in key markets and with target audiences where the message would resonate best.

We prioritized the long form video in most channels to highlight and tell the overall story. The content featured and context of where the media is running has high relevancy to

-The audience reached - e.g. MLB, African American audience

-Primary live location - e.g. NY/LA with close ties to Jackie Robinson/Dodgers

-The timeframe - launching on MLB opening day and running through Jackie Robinson day on 4/15


The campaign was live for 3 weeks and generated over 600 million total impressions on the Impact of Jackie Robinson. We delivered on, or beat, most of our goals for the campaign:

-99% PR message inclusion (above 90% benchmark)

-95% positive sentiment (above 90% benchmark)

-70% video completion rate (above the 50% benchmark)

-Won Drum awards creative work of the week

-Doubled the benchmark engagement rate on Facebook/Instagram

-2% sales trend improvement after launch from the previous 4 weeks

And we set the foundation for a longer-term relationship to drive societal impact with the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“In a year that marks Robinson’s 100th birthday, the agency is releasing a short film by Spike Lee and a campaign that celebrates Robinson and his impact, plus a pledge to open the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York this year.” - The Drum

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