From Dilly Dilly to Philly Philly — How Bud Light Capitalized on an Epic Marketing Gift

Sep 5, 2018

What happens when your nonsensical ad slogan happens to rhyme with the city that just won the Super Bowl?

If you’re Bud Light, you find a whole bunch of ways to capitalize on the opportunity.

Anheuser-Bush InBev somehow already had a winning idea with “Dilly Dilly” – the catchphrase capping off the Game of Thrones parody ads that became a staple of NFL commercials last season.

The commercials were concocted by two employees at Wieden + Kennedy. The Dilly Dilly phrase came about during a spit-balling brainstorm. The duo originally inserted it into the script just once as a placeholder for something better. But the client liked it so much they not only kept it, they added additional Dilly Dilly-s.

The campaign was a success and transcended the brand – people starting using the phrase even when they weren’t drinking Bud Light. As the regular season gave way to the playoffs and conference championships, Bud Light started to tailor its ads to specific team markets. It covered its bases by introducing targeted campaigns for the four remaining teams with a shot at the Super Bowl.

The fact that Dilly rhymes with Philly was already a big local win for Bud Light and the campaign. But then the brand received perhaps the greatest marketing gift of all.

On fourth-down-and-goal near the end of the second quarter of the Super Bowl, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles ran over to head coach Doug Pederson to pick the next play. They agreed on the Philly Special – arguably one of the greatest Super Bowl calls of all time.

Except Foles didn’t call it the Philly Special. He called it the Philly Philly.

With that (and the Foles touchdown that followed, not to mention a decisive Eagles victory), Dilly Dilly took on a whole new meaning for Eagles fans and football fans across the country.

Despite spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl advertising, Bud Light suddenly found itself benefiting from “free” word of mouth marketing. It made the most of it – free beer during the Super Bowl parade, a commemorative pint glass set and what most people are predicting will be a Doug Pederson statue to be unveiled with the start of the 2018-2019 season this Thursday.

Long story short: If a marketing campaign suddenly gains greater cultural relevance, seize every opportunity to make the most of that connection. And go Eagles.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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