L2 Digital IQ Index founder Scott Galloway says as much when introducing his business intelligence service’s 2014 Beer report, noting that AB InBev paid $30m for four minutes of exclusive Super Bowl airtime in 2014.
The brewer hit a home run with 50.34m+ views (as of today) for its ‘Puppy Love’ Budweiser ad but Galloway and L2 insist that the digital “tail could soon wag the dog” given Heineken brand Newcastle Brown Ale’s altogether edgier and considerably cheaper online effort.
“Ten days before the game, Newcastle Brown Ale began releasing a series of teasers for ‘the ad we didn’t make due to a lack of money, talent and permission to advertise during the game’,” he writes.
This web series culminated with a viral hit with actress Anna Kendrick that scored 9m views - you can watch it below - while a related microsite logged 100,000 unique visitors in January and February, approximately 35% of the traffic received by Budweiser.com and BudLight.com combined.
“Without a hint of hyperbole, Newcastle’s efforts demonstrate the potential for digital to disrupt the current landscape,” Galloway adds.
Digital IQ’s Beer Index rates the digital competence of brands upon the basis of digital marketing (35%), social media (35%), site and e-commerce (15%) and mobile (15%).
Scores range from Genius (140+ points) and Gifted (110-139) through to Average (90-109), Challenged and Feeble (70+).
Bud Light on (153) – the Super Bowl marked the start of its #UpForWhatever campaign showcasing those who are ‘up for whatever’ – New Belgium Brewing Company (150), Budweiser (147), Heineken USA (146) and Samuel Adams Boston Beer (143) all logged genius scores in L2’s index.
But there were surprisingly large laggard brands. Namely Becks (74), where a “lack of new programming since last year’s Sapphire release [a pilsner using German Saphir hops] handicaps…online marketing efforts”.
Coors also logged a lowly score of 73 due to no presence across either YouTube or Twitter, while stable mate Foster’s scored 57 for a non-mobile friendly flash-based website.
Modelo Especial bumped along near the bottom with a lowly Digital IQ score of 54, with L2 noting that its US Facebook page featuring bilingual replies to fans is its sole digital investment to date.
Assessing US beer’s digital prospects, Galloway writes that the “fight over beer is increasingly tied to the rising grocery wars and the new battlefront online”.
Online still only represents 3.3% of grocery sales but analysts expect this to grow to 6.7-16.9% over the next 10 years and survey data shows that 34% of consumers are willing to shop for beer online for home delivery.
“Consequently, beer brands face disruption to traditional distribution channels,” Galloway writes.
“Just as AB InBev, MillerCoors and Heineken mastered the nuances of distribution and shelf space in the physical world, organizations that understand the digital equivalent of aisle location and shelf placement will outperform peers online,” he adds.