Due to Covid-19, the UK government ordered all pubs to close from 20 March 2020, crippling an industry in one directive. Within a week, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I had launched Save Pub Life, a new scheme, which encouraged consumers to buy gift cards to use at their local pub once it re-opened.
The brewer pledged to match the value of the card to the pub up to a combined total of £1 million and, crucially, the pubs got the money right away, not when they eventually re-opened.
The strategy for our programme was twofold – we had to encourage pubs to sign up to the scheme, as well as consumers to buy a voucher. Our initial activity therefore was all about launching and driving awareness of the scheme among the business community. However, lockdown proved an unpredictable time for the sector, with uncertainty as to when pubs and bars would be able to re-open as lockdown progressed.
As debate and speculation began around when and how pubs would re-open, our activity changed – and Save Pub Life became a platform for Budweiser Brewing Group to advise and educate pubs to provide a comprehensive support package for a successful re-opening.
This evolving context meant we had to evolve our strategy. As a next step, we therefore pivoted the overall campaign to remind the nation what they love about their pubs, and to reassure them that it was safe to return around re-opening.
When the second lockdown hit, it was apparent we needed to further evolve as the situation pubs found themselves in continued to change. Our strategy evolved to create a variation on Save Pub Life that regalvanised communities to support their local pubs and reassured publicans that Budweiser Brewing Group would continue to provide support to the industry, both financially and with practical advice.
Not only did we need to move incredibly quickly, we had to create something that wasn’t simply writing a cheque. We needed a mechanic that would speak to both businesses and consumers.
After launch, we needed to show longevity as we still did not know when pubs would reopen. We therefore tapped into the nation’s fondness and desire to return to their local’s.
When pubs did reopen, we were able to pivot the campaign to help provide them with the advice and kit to safely welcome customers back.
And finally, when the second lockdown hit, we needed to create a new mechanic to re-engage publicans and pubgoers.
We kept creating moments to give us media hooks, which in turn created more links to the Save Pub Life website, generating more and more donations, which got us to our target.
The campaign has delivered extensive media coverage across national, trade and broadcast media, totalling 388 pieces to date, with a combined reach of 199.8M. 100% of this coverage has been positive in sentiment and a significant 92% links back to the Save Pub Life website – something that has been vitally important in terms of driving sign ups and donations.
The true success of this campaign can be seen through the genuine impact it had on the industry. Save Pub Life hit its target of funnelling £1.5 million to the trade, with 1,600 pubs and bars signed up and 20,000 gift cards sold, which can now be used in pubs that are re-opened.
Most importantly the scheme has positioned Budweiser Brewing Group as a significant supporter of the On Trade to customers, consumers and the broader industry, specifically through this Covid-19 period – with the potential for the scheme to evolve to meet the longer term challenges pubs and bars will face when Covid-19 eventually ends.