Find The Viral Strand In The Brand’s DNA (Or Don’t Do A Viral)

From Ad Age:

How much buzz does it take to sell Milwaukee’s Best? Apparently a lot more than 3 million hits on YouTube and 197 blog mentions.
Proving that viral sensations don’t always immediately translate into sensational sales, the bargain beer’s video of its “Beer Cannon” that fires cans of Milwaukee’s Best Light to destroy such unmanly targets such as china dishes, house plants and fruit has inspired discussion but not much consumption.
Sales of Milwaukee’s Best fell 11% in supermarkets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 9, according to Information Resources Inc., and sales of Best Light dropped 7.5%.

One thing I always say to emerging copywriters, account people, clients, etc. is puns are no good because they draw attention to themselves, not to the product or service being marketed. This same problem also exists in today’s viral and buzz marketing efforts. Brands are so busy thinking of ways to launch a viral, they sometimes forget the fundementals. What brands truly want is for consumers to talk about their product, not their advertising.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. anyone who seriously expects a single execution to translate into increased beer sales is on crack. the beer cannon footage is great fun. and that’s all it’s supposed to be. chill out ad age.
    it’s part of an overall strategy to get Milwaukee’s Best on the radar of beer drinkers. and it’s clearly working. getting three million hits is worth celebrating.
    i sound like i was paid to say this. i wasn’t.

  2. As an awareness builder, there’s no doubt this campaign is working. My problem is with the idea, not the execution. The product isn’t made to look appealing here. It’s not beer. It’s ammo. If it was my beer, I’d want to say something about its drinkability (hopefully in a way that moved people to talk about the brand).

  3. …Sales of Milwaukee’s Best fell 11% in supermarkets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 9, according to Information Resources Inc., and sales of Best Light dropped 7.5%…
    the beer cannon video was only released over the summer btw. so it’s a bit of a leap to connect its success with a drop in sales of MBL over a YEAR long period that ended in september. especially when sales for beer category are headed south and have been for quite some time.
    PS: hate to say it but MLB is unspeakable piss. and i’m not that fussy.

  4. I agree with veedub. I never even knew they existed before the viral. If your product is horrible you advertise to distract consumers from how horrible it is. Truely good products sell themselves.

  5. I agree with Vinny Warren, I mean veedub.
    Anyone who has worked at DDB Chicago on beer accounts as long as he has should know what they are talking about. Welcome back Vinny. We’ve missed you.

  6. I’m intrigued by kamakazi’s comment.
    I can just image the meeting where the client presents the brief to the agency creatives…
    “Okay, we know our product is ‘unspeakable piss,’ so let’s deflect attention from that fact at all costs. Are you with me people?”
    It’s something a politician would do. Not a beer brand.