Bud Light bringing Dilly Dilly campaign to labels?

Bud Light loves its new “Dilly Dilly” campaign so much it appears it’s expanding the catchphrase to labels.

In the same way Anheuser-Busch this summer branded its Budweiser cans and bottles with “America,” it appears to be plotting new Bud Light labels that carry the signature Bud Light blue background and block-white text. The only difference: they swap “Dilly Dilly” for “Bud Light,” according to an application it submitted to federal regulators.

It’s unclear when the brand intends to roll out the new packaging; Matt Kohan, an Anheuser-Busch spokesman, declined to comment, though he pointed to a recent story in the trade publication Beer Business Daily (subscription required) to offer “a sense of how it’s resonating with our fans.”

Bud Light can thank Ben Roethlisberger for helping take “Dilly Dilly” beyond its commercials. The Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback earlier this month used the phrase in an audible during a game, prompting a spike in “Dilly Dilly” mentions among sports fans on social media channels and in traditional media.

Bud Light’s creative chief Andy Goeler told Beer Business Daily the nonsensical phrase is a “good opportunity for Bud Light to have a nice rally cry” that’s based on a toast. “Dilly Dilly” and its associated messaging campaign, he said, has pleased distributors and appears to have accomplished what was intended: thrust Bud Light back into public conversation.

“People are talking about Bud Light again right now,” Goeler said, according to the report. Still, both Beer Business Daily and Beer Marketers Insights (subscription required) point out: Bud Light continues to flounder in what is on track to be its worst year ever, according to BMI.

Bud Light volume is down 5.4 percent year-to-date through Nov. 5, according to IRI data cited by BMI. It’s down 4.7 percent in the most-recent 12 weeks, the period roughly encompassing what BMI called “the ‘Dilly Dilly’ era.”

What’s more, Bud Light slipped even more in the last four weeks, according to Nielsen all-outlet data. Case volume and sales dollars were each off 8.6 percent in the four weeks ended Nov. 18. That compares with year-to-date figures where sales dollars are down 5.1 percent on a 5.9 percent decline in case volume.

Still, Goeler told Adweek he’s optimistic the brand is breaking through. He told the publication that "Dilly Dilly" accounted for some 100,000 Google searches and about 45,000 YouTube searches for the phrase per week. Those figures have been helped with media pick-up.  In addition to beer industry trade press, Bud’s “Dilly Dilly” campaign has earned mentions in male- and sports-centric websites, such as Brobible and Barstool Sports, as well as Adweek and a chain of daily newspapers. Other brands, such as Southwest Airlines, have jumped on the bandwagon as well, using the phrase on social media channels.

Bud Light is attempting to harness some of that momentum with sequel advertisements that make use of the catchphrase, a decision Adweek Creative Editor Tim Nudd called a “no-brainer” in a blog post.

Comparing “Dilly Dilly” to Budweiser’s “Whassup?” campaign used between 1999-2002, Goeler told Adweek, “As a marketer, you live for a moment like this.” He said “Dilly Dilly” “will be a permanent piece of what people talk about for the brand moving forward.”

But even the “Whassup?” campaign wasn’t able to reverse the fortunes of The King of Beers, which has been in decline since 1988, Beer Marketers Insights notes.

Bud’s decline moderated amid that campaign, the publication wrote, but the brand was still off another 5 million barrels by 2003. “Any moderation in Bud Light’s decline from “Dilly Dilly,” BMI wrote, “would be most welcome for AB.”