Brand Strategy, Creative Efficacy

Classic Case: How One Beer Brand Scored a Touchdown Against the Competition – Part One

While Super Bowl advertising is famously leveraged by marketers to drive brand awareness, this two-part classic case study explores that an evidence-based utilization of both rational and emotional drivers of consumer choice during the NFL’s showpiece was the framework to begin revitalizing a brand in retreat.

This classic case study from 2011, examined consumers’ emotional responses to three of the world’s biggest light beer brands: Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light.

Following the premiere of Bud Light’s 2011 Super Bowl advertisement ‘Severance Package’ Forethought’s client, advertising agency DDB NYC, wanted to understand the relative importance of the primary emotions driving consumer choice for light beer amongst regular drinkers, and whether their client’s brand and latest advertising were eliciting the right emotion.

Using our patented Prophecy Thoughts and Feelings® methodology, Forethought quantitatively modeled the rational choice drivers versus the implicit emotions to reveal the relative importance of the discrete emotions for the light beer category.

The modeling also identified the emotion inventory of the Bud Light brand and its relative performance compared to competitor brands on emotions. The final stage was testing how the Bud Light Super Bowl commercial performed in triggering the target emotions for category choice.

At the time, among regular light beer drinkers, light beer purchase behavior was driven by 71.1% rational decision-making and 28.9% emotion or feelings. The packaging designers, sensory researchers and brewers would all give a cheer that rational drivers matter so much and equally, while the creative director whose responsibility it is to engage the consumer across the rational and emotional decision centres, would not be at all surprised that emotion is also important.

The following exhibit reveals the importance of just the emotions (excluding the rational) and the performance of the brands. For example, the emotion Happiness accounted for 15% of consumption behaviour. So, if Happiness was one of the key emotional drivers for light beer purchases, which of the three competitor brands (Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite) made us happiest?


Exhibit A: Emotional Performance of US Beer Brands

The purple line eliciting the highest performance on the three key emotions – Surprise, Happiness and Pride is Bud Light. From this, we concluded that the Bud Light brand had the strongest performance in eliciting the most important emotions to drive choice – one of those being Happiness.

But – did Bud Light’s Superbowl commercial perform as well across the key emotions as its brand? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Classic Case study.

For more information on this research or any enquiries contact:

Jen Hanson | VP, Client Development | [email protected] | +1 415 987 8260

Tim O’Brien | Senior VP, Consulting | timothy.o’[email protected] | +1 917 825 3503


Forethought is a marketing advisory, strategy and analytics firm supporting clients to drive in-market outcomes via brand, communications, customer experience and offer optimization. Our team partner with leading brands in North America and the Asia Pacific region from offices in New York and Melbourne, Australia. Forethought works with organizations in the B2B and B2C space, including Telecommunications, Aviation, Logistics, Banking, Insurance, Wealth, Retail, Allied Health, Pharmaceutical, Education, Property, Digital, Law, Professional Services and Consumer Goods.

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