What if I told you that the only reason people still drink Bud Light is because of two words (no, not “it’s cheap”).

It was August 27th 2017, a Sunday to remember.

14 NFL games, 8 hours of nonstop football (yes I watched every hour), and the final episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones airing at 9pm.

One of the greatest shows of ALLLL TIME was in its much-anticipated season finale. So much suspense, years of build up for this night.

And while we were all getting guac and chips from Whole Foods in preparation for the season finale, Marketing execs at Bud Light were busy putting together a top 10 Marketing campaign of all time.

Yeah I said it, top 10. No debate.

Bud Light was stumbling through a 10 year flatline in sales, losing traction in the ever competitive alcoholic beverage industry. Once an American staple, Bud Light was becoming that one Uncle who nobody really enjoys hanging around, partially because that’s all who drank their beer. 

Interest in the brand was wavering and their inability to tap into younger audiences had them falling behind the trendy craft brewers popping up on every street corner.

But then the stars Starks aligned.

Game of Thrones was coming to a close, 7 seasons of action, love, drama, and connecting us all with our medieval selves. The show had amassed billions in earnings and captivated the exact audiences Bud Light was looking to reach to shed their current stale perception.

Bud Light’s current customers, 45-65 y/o, and their most coveted demo, 21-28 y/o were glued to the TVs every Sunday night for Game of Thrones. 

Via their Trojan Horse, Bud Light, the team at Bud Light introduced DILLY DILLY to the world. On that beautiful Sunday, they aired the first commercial of the campaign featuring a scene of the King and Queen being presented with gifts at an extravagant dinner.

All of their closest comrades in one room, a big feast, and my fav, GIFT GIVING.

What type of gifts would a King or Queen receive back in the day? I know, my head went to the same place as you, foot-pressed wine and maybe the occasional case of influenza. Those are what the King and Queen would get, right?

Well, yes, and then they’d send you to the pit of misery.


Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.

Because who would want either of those gifts???

The King and Queen only have ONE acceptable gift…a 24-pack of Bud Light.

I’m not joking (just go with it).

Piggybacking off of the cultural enigma that was The Game of Thrones (GoT), Bud Light built a timely, witty, and innovative campaign that can’t be ignored.

GoT was the social proof for Bud Light that the format, topic, and scriptwriting for their commercial was desired by their target audiences. 

Launching in tandem with the show created a native feel to Bud Light’s campaign which was perfect for eliminating resistance from consumers to the messaging in the commercials.

Every commercial was product-centric and kept Bud Light’s new catch phrase, Dilly Dilly, top of mind, but perhaps the best lesson to learn from it all is how Marketing DOESN’T NEED TO BE BORING.

Even if you’re trying to sell, that doesn’t mean you can’t entertain. Every Dilly Dilly commercial is goal-oriented to move more product. But every Dilly Dilly commercial ALSO sets out to ENTERTAIN.

It’s the difference between Bud Light’s creative and a competitor like Pabst Blue Ribbon that has Bud Light dominating the industry while Pabst Blue Ribbon is resorting to competing on price alone.

We’ve all seen the commercials, know they’re hilarious, and we can chalk them up alone as a huge win for Bud Light. But what not everyone knows are the tiny little inflection points of the campaign that were meticulously crafted by Bud Light and ultimately led to this campaign transcending the alcoholic beverage industry.

Inflection Point #1: In 2017, NFL QB Ben Roethlisberger began using Dilly Dilly in his play calls.

Even though the phrase was trademarked, Bud Light didn’t pursue the NFL or the Steelers to have them stop using it for play calls on national TV.

Instead they leaned into letting people use the phrase and it was a genius move.

ESPN began covering the mania on SportsCenter, media personalities were screaming Dilly Dilly live on air, and 3x NFL defensive player of the year, JJ Watt, began shooting out “Dilly Dilly” tweets like his life depended on it.

Even the experts of the English language at Merriam-Webster chimed in on the buzz, spitting some facts about the beloved “Dilly.”

The phrase was so tightly associated with Bud Light that it became a huge identifier for the brand. You could say Dilly Dilly at brunch with your grandparents, in line for chipotle, or at your hair salon and everyone would know you’re talking about Bud Light.

Inflection Point #2: This idea of leaning into the world they built with Dilly Dilly reached peak levels when a craft brewer ripped off Bud Light’s mantra with a “Dilly Dilly IPA.” 

Instead of having their lawyers send a cease and desist to the craft brewery, Bud Light sent a town crier to the craft brewer’s headquarters to let them know what’s what.


The stunt instantly made national news headlines. 

Enhancing the legacy of “Dilly Dilly”, earning MILLIONS of organic impressions for Bud Light, and subtly getting the craft brewer to actually stop selling the product.

Inflection Point #3: A craft brewer was not the only one piggybacking off of the adored catchphrase. The Philadelphia Eagles began mimicking “Dilly Dilly” with their very own, “Philly Philly.”

The Eagles won the Super Bowl in magnificent fashion that year and “Philly Philly” shirts were EVERYWHERE.

There was no official partnership between the brands and the eerily similar phrase most likely infringed on Bud Light’s trademark.

But Bud Light saw an opportunity, not a threat, and showed up to the Eagle’s Super Bowl Parade with FREE BUD LIGHT for everyone in the city. 

I’d chalk this one up about the necessity to experiment as a Marketing team. Was there a tangible bottom line ROI for all 3 moves from Bud Light? It’s hard to attribute.

Actually no it’s not.

1️⃣. In 2017 Bud Light gained market share for the first time since 2011.

2️⃣. Bud Light garnered 1B earned media impressions from the entirety of the campaign (LEGENDARY).

3️⃣. Beer sales in the ENTIRE adult beverage industry rose 3.3% year over year 🤯

4️⃣. Bud Light’s ad spend was 20% lower in 2017 than in 2016, yet they had one of their most successful years ever. 

Dilly Dilly.

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.