Budweiser makes giant leap towards becoming first beer on Mars

The goal is to create a "microgravity" version of Budweiser.

Company: Budweiser
Campaign: Bud on Mars
Agency: 3PM (comprised of Weber Shandwick and PMK-BNC)
Duration: March 2017 – May 2018

Budweiser made a giant leap towards becoming the first beer on Mars when it completed an experiment with the help of astronauts on the International Space Station, generating thousands of media placements and massive buzz in the process.

3PM, Budweiser’s agency partner for the campaign, pitched the idea of becoming the first beer on Mars in winter 2017.

The brand began efforts to study how beer and carbonation would behave on Mars through experimentation with ingredients in space, with the eventual goal of creating a "microgravity" version of Budweiser suitable for brewing and drinking on Mars.

"By early 2017, we were engaging our agriculture and innovation teams and looking for a partner in the space field to make this dream of brewing a microgravity beer a reality," explained Jennifer Goldsmith, director of marketing communications at Budweiser. "Our main mission was to learn as much as possible so we could be as authentic as possible."

In the process, Bud wanted to generate appeal and conversation about the brand from current fans and new millennial drinkers.

To help facilitate the campaign, Bud partnered with Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), an organization which manages a portion of the International Space Station and is focused on enabling space research.

On March 11, 2017, at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Bud held a panel discussion about the campaign in a venue outfitted to look like the Red Planet. The panel was moderated by actress Kate Mara, from the movie The Martian, and featured former astronaut Clay Anderson, Val Toothman of Bud parent Anheuser-Busch InBev's Innovation Team, and Patrick O'Neill, head of communications for CASIS.

On December 15, 2017, 20 Budweiser barley seeds were loaded onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and launched to the ISS as part of the first official experiment. The seeds grew for 30 days in zero gravity before returning to earth for further research by the brand.

"Our social team created original content to showcase our goal of being the first beer on Mars and paid media support helped to drive attention and awareness of our experiments on the ISS," said Goldsmith.

On May 4, 2018, Bud released a brand video featuring astronauts on the ISS handling the Budweiser barley seeds, narrated by Anderson, and featuring audio clips from broadcast coverage about the campaign.

This fall, Bud will began a second experiment on the ISS which will test the growth rate of the zero-gravity barley seeds compared to average Earth barley.

The campaign has generated 2,336 media placements, covering more than 80 U.S. markets. Notable placements included features in Forbes, Food and Wine, Fortune, CNET, Time, and Smithsonian Magazine.

Bud on Mars has also received more than 14,400 social mentions, measured across all platforms.

The brand also got astronauts to help perform an experiment with barley in space and appear in footage with the Bud logo front and center.

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