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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Natural Light Uses Athlete Partnerships To Help Launch “Naturdays”

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Photo Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Natural Light has been a staple line of Anheuser-Busch since it was introduced in 1977, but that hasn’t prevented the brand from trying to evolve. For its latest product, the “Naturdays” lager, that growth includes a promotion strategy heavily tied to athlete partnerships.

Naturdays launched on February 25th after Senior Director of Value Brands at Anheuser-Busch Daniel Blake and his team determined that their market share, which he describes as “young, millennial drinkers,” was ready for an alternative to the “Natural Light” and “Natural Ice” staples.

“We noticed a gap in the market with the new 21-plus-year-old drinkers,” said Blake. “There was an opportunity to bring more variety to that consumer, specifically with an innovative economy beer that had a unique flavor.”

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The solution was a beer designed for all-day refreshment and incorporated a flavor that the company would later describe as being brewed “for those who like strawberry lemonade… and drinking beer.” From there, Blake and the Anheuser-Busch team set out to add to their existing consumer base. It was a deliberate attempt to strike a balance between choice and keeping brand awareness in mind. Naturdays was intended to put a unique spin on Natural Light beers while still maintaining the same quality of taste.

But the branding strategy was as important as the product itself. Naturday first engaged with former NFL punter and current media personality Pat McAfee, who signed on to help announce the product to his more-than-1.5 million Twitter followers. According to Blake, McAfee, who currently hosts the Pat McAfee Show 2.0 and recently signed on as a contributor with WWE, is both an ideal branding partner for the beer as well as an enthusiastic consumer.

“When Pat tried Naturdays for the first time, he took a sip and said, ‘You guys are about to sell a billion of these Naturdays things,” Blake said. “Pat McAfee is known so well for his legendary stories and storytelling – he was literally tailor-made to depict the definition of a Naturday.”

McAfee wasn’t the only sports figure that the brand tapped for their new launch. The drive continued on March 3rd at NASCAR’s Penzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when Chris Buescher’s #37 Chevrolet was decked out in the Naturdays pink-and-yellow color scheme with flamingos all over. Natural Light has had a paint scheme on Buescher’s car dating back to 2017, but the latest stunt was perhaps its most unique way to engage its community.

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Customizing a high-powered stock car in front of a nationally televised audience also amounted to a massive statement of intent, one that complemented a line of Naturdays-themed merchandise including Hawaiian shirts, hats, socks, and inflatable flamingos.

“From putting a recent graduate’s resume on Chris’ race car to now branding with Naturdays, we have found Chris to be a perfect fit for the Natty Light brand as an up-and-coming, younger driver,” Blake said.

All of that helped build steam to a collaboration with Barstool Sports built around the return of #NattyTour, the latest edition to Barstool’s several-years-old partnership with Natural Light. The tour has taken on a life of its own as Barstool has traveled to multiple college towns in an effort to engage directly with their own fan base. #NattyTour stops will be made at the top moments of sports throughout the year: marquee horse races, the biggest college football games, and several others. For spring break, Barstool personalities including Ellie Schnitt and Big Ev traveled to Texas, where they highlighted top moments and sporting events from the confines of a Natural Light- branded RV. Naturdays took center stage via its inclusion in the “77-pack,” a box of 77 Natural Light-branded beers. A special edition 77-pack, featuring the new Naturdays, was exclusively available at South Padre Island throughout spring break and sold out almost immediately.

“The #NattyTour started in 2016, and after a hiatus in 2018, was brought back in 2019,” said Blake. “The Tour, in partnership with Barstool Sports, is one of the most impactful ways we’re able to connect directly with our fans and create unforgettable experiences for them. We’re always looking at new, interesting and different events that the Natty drinker is passionate about and where we can create moments and stories.”

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Blake says the feedback across the social media landscape has been extremely positive and receptive towards the new brand. With die-hard Natural Lights fans continuing to support the new Naturdays line, coupled with adding new consumers into their fan base, the brand has positioned itself to further make waves within the beer marketplace.

“It’s been incredible to see how the Natty Light community has rallied around Naturdays right from the start, and even before it hit market,” said Blake. “The response has been beyond our expectations.”

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