Bud Tries To “Private Label” Beer Pong

The Gainesville Sun: This past summer, Anheuser-Busch unveiled a game it calls Bud Pong. The company, which makes Budweiser, is promoting Bud Pong tournaments and providing Bud Pong tables, balls and glasses to distributors in 47 markets, including college towns like Oswego, N.Y., and Clemson, S.C. Bud Pong may soon expand into more markets, said Francine Katz, a spokeswoman for Anheuser-Busch.
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“It’s catching on like wildfire,” Katz said. “We created it as an icebreaker for young adults to meet each other.”
Beer companies like Anheuser-Busch have made promoting “responsible drinking” a matter of corporate philosophy, partly as an answer to criticism that they market to youth. But Katz said Bud Pong was not intended for underage drinkers because promotions were held in bars, not on campuses. And it does not promote binge drinking, she said, because official rules call for water to be used, not beer. The hope is that those on the sidelines enjoy a Bud.
On the ground, though, it may be a different story. At the Esso Club near Clemson University, Jessica Twilley, a bartender, said she had worked at several Bud Pong events and had “never seen anyone playing with water.”
“It’s always beer,” Twilley said. “It’s just like any other beer pong.”
When told about the Esso Club, Katz responded that her information was that the club used water, and that distributors were instructed to “conduct retail promotions responsibly.”
[UPDATE] Anheuser-Busch has discontinued its Bud Pong promotion in retail accounts, saying that in some instances the promotion was not being carried out as had been intended.
“It has come to our attention that despite our explicit guidelines, there may have been instances where this promotion was not carried out in the manner it was intended,” said Francine I. Katz, Anheuser’s vice president of communications and consumer affairs.
“As a company that has invested more than US$500m to promote responsible consumption among adults and to discourage abuse, we believe it is important that our intentions with Bud Pong not be misperceived,” said Katz.

About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.