Michelob Ultra, the self-described “Superior Light Beer” from Anheuser-Busch, has launched a new advertising and marketing campaign aimed at hydration-minded runners and other athletes.
The campaign, whose slogan is “This Is Basically Water,” kicks off today across the U.S. It includes print and digital ads, video preroll spots, and outreach to social media influencers.
“Athletes love water, right?” asks one ad. “This is basically water.”
“Water is crucial for optimal performance,” says another. “This is basically water.”
“Your body needs water,” yet another ad declares. “This is basically water.”
Experts suggested the campaign is a last-ditch attempt by the brand to establish itself as the beer of choice for fit, active adults—an effort that, by most measures, has seen limited success, despite Michelob Ultra’s longstanding presence at postrace festivals and sponsorship of athletic events.
“For years, Michelob Ultra has tried so hard to position itself as a beer for active people,” said Barnard Gumble, Ph.D., a professor of beverage marketing at Springfield College. “And for at least that long it’s been an open secret that the stuff tastes like a homeopathic version of beer—as if someone added a drop of lager to some carbonated water and then diluted it again and again, to the point where the final product contained no detectable amount of beer but just the memory of beer.”
“With this campaign, the brand seems to not just acknowledge that truth but to actually embrace it,” he continued. “It’s an interesting strategy.”
Reached for comment, the company did not dispute that characterization.
“Michelob Ultra is the superior light beer that you can quaff without compromising your active lifestyle, or even really tasting anything,” said company spokesman Barry Huffman. “Because, as our new marketing campaign makes clear, it’s basically water.”
“LIVE ULTRA,” he added.
Dumb Runner wanted to hear from runners who enjoy Michelob Ultra, to get their take on the new campaign, but couldn’t find any.