Budweiser’s roots in music run deep, so when the UK’s prestigious Brit Awards failed to nominate a female in the 2023 Artist of the Year category, the king of beers took matters into its own hands and passed the mic to underserved artists. On the eve of the Feb. 11 awards event at London’s O2 Arena, the brand transformed one of its billboards in the nearby Shoreditch neighborhood into a concert stage that literally provided a platform for eight up-and-coming female and nonbinary artists to showcase their talents. And it all went down while music industry bigwigs were in town for the weekend.
The activation was designed to leverage Bud’s massive reach to help burgeoning musicians advance their careers, serving as part of the brand’s broader mission to aid the next generation of all types of creators in catching their big break. The campaign tagline says it all: “Yours to Take.”
“We’re trying to infuse creativity into helping solve both consumer and customer problems in everything that we do,” says Todd Allen, vp-global marketing at Budweiser. “We’re very much an inclusive brand and want to ensure that we’re giving a global stage to anyone that deserves the opportunity. So it was another great way for us to be able to provide a stage for artists to shine, no matter what their background, race, religion or sexual orientation is.”
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How it all went down: Unsuspecting music fans, industry execs and general passersby walking the crowded streets of East London stumbled on the performances, ensuring the artists drew plenty of eyeballs. The installation’s bright-red billboard backdrop and “The Stage is Yours to Take—Are You Ready?” messaging didn’t hurt, either. The sets were livestreamed via projectors across the city, before concluding on screens outside and inside the O2 Arena on the evening of the Brits. The latter broadcasts also included QR codes linking to a curated playlist of songs performed by the musicians, adding another layer of visibility in front of an influential crowd.
The event strategy quickly paid off. When a scout from music and technology brand Kobalt spotted a performance by Mychelle on Bud’s billboard-turned-stage, it landed the singer-songwriter a professional demo deal with Kobalt and the Department of Music.
“Ultimately, we want to win with younger generations of consumers of legal drinking age, and music is the No. 1 passion point with that audience,” says Allen. “In order to be relevant to their lives, you need to be relevant in the right passion points. And music has been in the DNA of Budweiser, whether it’s at the bars, clubs and venues that we operate in, or the partnerships we’ve had with tier one artists over the years. It’s been an integral part of our activation plans for a very long time.” Agency: FCB New York.