Band of Buds

19 Oct

Hey! I’m Jen, and my portion of the project focuses on Budweiser and Bud Light products and marketing. Budweiser and Bud Light are interesting products to study in the context of gender and digital culture because, while they are a company that traditionally markets toward men between the ages of 21 and 35, they do not use the same kind of marketing strategies that other beer companies use, which often follow the mantra “sex sells.” Budweiser and Bud Light are typically known for relying on humor and sports in order to appeal to this specific demographic, and rarely use images that objectify or degrade women. However, they are certainly excluding women from the discourse.

When I began this research, I came across the Budweiser “Band of Buds” Contest. This is a web-based contest in which people form “crews” with their friends, who will then go out into the offline world to complete “challenges.” Photo evidence of these challenges—which involve partaking in strange activities while drinking Budweiser—are then posted to the website, and crews gain points for their creative photos. The crews with the most points at the end of the online portion of the contest get a chance to attend casting call parties, and the winning crew is eventually announced at the final party in Las Vegas.

This contest is relevant to this course because it effectively uses online and offline marketing strategies to not only hook “fans” of the product, but to get these fans to continue to market the product themselves as they represent Budweiser wherever they complete a challenge. Of course the “Band of Buds” contest has an iPhone application, allowing the crews and other fans to post text and photo messages immediately from parties or other places where Budweiser is present.

In my research, I became a member of the site, downloaded the app, and began studying the behaviors of participants in order to find some gender dynamics. It was at this point that I began to see that there is a distinct sense of community among the participants of this contest. Just as Budweiser and Bud Light marketing centers around humor and sports, so does the discussion board on the “Band of Buds” site. Most participants seem to be men, however, even the women who are participating seem to follow the same masculine norms as the men do. The questions that I am considering for the next blog post are: how do these norms develop in an online community, and what does this site being a masculine space mean for the women who are active participants in the contest?

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One Response to “Band of Buds”

  1. plgnet November 16, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Jen, this is definitely a great example of how a fan-based community can be active rather than passive. The fans of the Bud Light products are not only purchasing the beer and consuming it, but they are beginning to make it part of their lives. The active use of the Bud Light products are now seen in their daily activities and through their connection with the contest. They are taking pictures of it, posting things about it and commenting online about it. The fans can now have this online and offline connection to the contest and Bud Light.

    Much like my product Pinnacle Vodka, Bud Light has created a self-sustaining campaign that cost them nearly nothing and is being run directly by their fans, a consumer based campaign. All the “talk” that has been created about the Band of Buds Contest alone has brought in a huge numbers of followers for Bud Light. Hey, you’re even following it!

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