This blog post is part of Carnival of the Mobilists (Computer Link), the weekly roundup of the top mobile bloggers’ stories on the internet.
Budweiser and Bud Light beer for years have hosted their own “big game” in the big-ticket arena of superbowl ads. Dubbed “bud bowl,” the advertisments show a football game where Budweiser bottles dressed in tiny football uniforms compete against Bud Light bottles over a series of commercials spread out over the course of the superbowl. For international mobiEnthusiast.mobi readers, the superbowl is the game that decides the American football champion. Now, Anheuser-Busch mobile marketing is taking that message directly to consumers’ phones via a combination mobile website and SMS text messaging campaign. budbowl.mobi.
Budweiser SMS Opt In
The Budweiser mobile opt-in process is not actually mobile. It’s not possible to opt in directly from a mobile phone, which could mean potentially lost subscribers. In order to receive the Budweiser promo code to view the “secret spot,” mobile phone users need to go back to their computers to register at the deskop site, budbowl.com (computer link). There is an intial gateway page that requires visitors to enter their birthdate to ensure they are over 21 to enter the site. Unfortunately, due to this gateway page, we were unable to transcode the budbowl.com site for use on mobile phones.
Once the site is convinced the visitor is of legal drinking age, there is a small section that asks for the visitor’s mobile phone number. Once the mobile phone number is entered from the .com site, the following SMS text message is dispatched to the consumer’s mobile phone:
“A-B: Football fans, Bud Bowl is coming up! Repy Y 2 opt-in to Bud Bowl Mobile & exclusive alerts from A-B. Standard Messaging Charges Apply”
I admit to being an SMS rookie, and I sent “opt in” as my reply message, but Anheuser-Busch didn’t accept that as an answer. I received this message:
“I’m sorry but I don’t understand your message. Text HELP for more info. Text STOP to opt out.”
In the interest of research, I sent a reply with “help.” I did not receive a return message, so I guess the help feature is not working, or perhaps it is case sensitive. Back to the drawing board. I re-read the original text message, and it said “Reply Y 2 opt-in,” so I replied to the original message, typed Y and sent it. It looks like Y stands for “yes.” That did the trick. Here’s the next message I received:
“A-B You’re IN! Enter —– (Budweiser promo code) to unlock & view the Secret Spot at www.budbowl.mobi on your phone, or at www.budbowl.com at home. StdMsgChrgsApply RplyStop2OptOut”
Budbowl dot mobi Mobile Website
“Secret Spot” Video doesn’t work for non-smartphones
The phone I used to test the site was an LG Rumor, which is a popular text messaging feature phone. Of course, an iPhone and many other smartphones will run on budbowl.mobi without issue. Not so with an SMS text messaging phone. After going through the lengthy process of going back to my computer to register for the budbowl promo code, I entered it on the budbowl.mobi site, and was unable to load the video of the “secret spot” commercial. The video is hosted by netbiscuits.net, which generated a server error when I attempted to view it on the phone. An alternative strategy for the developers of the site might be to offer the video in several MIME types, including 3gp, and 3gp2 format for people with CDMA chips by Qualcomm, provide a direct download, or at least host it on the budbowl.mobi site which is mobile compliant.
I had much better success with the downloads. I was able to download Budweiser wallpaper and Bud Light wallpaper. I skipped the Budweiser ringtones, which also are available.
Final Thoughts on the Anheuser-Busch Mobile Marketing Campaign
The Anheuser-Busch team has blended a mobile website with an SMS message campaign. During the football game next Sunday, we’ll see how they integrate the mobile marketing campaign with their traditional television advertising campaign. If they choose to take down the website after the superbowl has ended, they still have the mobile phone numbers of their subscribers to tell them of future offers. This initial attempt sets the stage for other mobile websites A-B may build in the future to support the brand. Despite the hiccups with the video and the sign-in process, mobiEnthusiast.mobi puts this superbowl mobile marketing campaign in the “win” column.
It is simply amazing to me that Anheuser-Busch did not take advantage of the Superbowl to get SMS subscribers. Some of the advertisements continued their current drinkability campaign, and two were about a horse that was jealous of a dog in one spot and then tracked down and ran off with a female carnival dancing horse in another. The commercials were entertaining to be sure, but when you consider that the brand had mechanisms in place to collect mobile phone numbers from literally millions of viewers, I’m left scratching my head as to why they didn’t use them.