Marketing

Millennials Get Their Own Spectator Sport

Video gaming, as eSports, is drawing a marketing bonanza thanks to Millennials, who also make any ‘Is it a legit sport?’ debate moot, says Smith School marketing professor Hank Boyd. When Turner Sports transitions from Warriors-Thunder NBA playoff action tonight to its Friday debut on TBS of its own eSports league, it also will showcase Turner’s new 10,000-square-foot arena in Atlanta. Read more...

Making Sense of Berkshire’s Bite of Apple

Berkshire Hathaway’s small but much-discussed bite of Apple suggests a vote of confidence for a tech giant that had been sliding in the stock market. It also hints at how Warren Buffett’s holding company will do business after the 85-year-old "Oracle of Omaha" no longer is there, Smith School professor David Kass says. Revealed Monday in a regulatory filing, the roughly $1 billion investment of 9.8 million shares represents about 1 percent of Berkshire’s $129 billion portfolio value. Read more...

Good move? Budweiser is now ‘America’

Social media is buzzing about Budweiser. Just in time for the Summer Olympics and Trump v. Clinton, Anheuser-Busch will temporarily change the name of its flagship brand to “America.” Ironically, the Belgian-owned beer maker will roll out its new cans on Canada's Victoria Day, asserting Budweiser’s place next to baseball and apple pie until after the presidential election in November. Five Smith School marketing professors weigh in on whether the move is smart or foolish. Read more...

Smart or Foolish? Budweiser is now ‘America’

SMITH BRAIN TRUST — Social media is buzzing about Budweiser. Just in time for the Summer Olympics and Trump v. Clinton, Anheuser-Busch will temporarily change the name of its flagship brand to “America.” Ironically, the Belgian-owned beer maker will roll out its new cans on Canada's Victoria Day (May 23), asserting Budweiser’s place next to baseball and apple pie until after the presidential election in November. Five marketing professors from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business weigh in on whether the move is smart or foolish.

Downplaying Belgian ties: Professor Jie Zhang says Anheuser-Busch has made a concerted effort to maintain its all-America image in the eyes of U.S. consumers since its 2008 acquisition by InBev, a brewing company with Belgian and Brazilian roots. “The move to temporarily change Budweiser's name to ‘America’ in the coming summer to fall season might sound cheesy, but it’s consistent with the company's overall branding strategy,” she says. “It could generate buzz about the brand and help Budweiser stand out from a crowded field.”

Attention to detail: Professor Mary B. Harms, champion of the school’s Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows program, calls the visual execution of the campaign "masterful." Besides writing “America” in the same script as “Budweiser,” other details reinforce the patriotic message in a playful way without making the brand unrecognizable. The “King of Beers” tagline, for example, is changed to “E Pluribus Unum,” and “AB” is changed to “US.” But the colors and fonts look the same. Even close up, the familiar Budweiser brand comes through. “Their logo is such an icon and has such rich history,” Harms says. “A lesser-known beer might not have the same effect.”

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Healing during wartime: “The change to America is obviously trying to fan the flames of patriotism during a time when the country seems divided because of the extreme partisanship, not just across the two parties but also within each of them,” professor Joydeep Srivastava says. “Further, the Summer Olympics in Rio is also a great opportunity to associate America with Budweiser. It creates an indelible association between America and Budweiser.” He says Coca Cola did something similar when it shipped Coke to all the soldiers during World War II. “Coke became synonymous with home and America,” he says.

Too on the nose: Professor David Godes says Budweiser already has a strong association with the concept of "America," just like Coke, Disney and Chevrolet. “They've built this powerful association through an uncountable array of marketing actions, from the colors on the can to the sponsorship of iconic events like the Super Bowl and the various themes depicted in its ads,” Godes says. But stating the position too "on the nose" can backfire, he says. “There's a big difference between creating an ad with a horse and a puppy — evoking emotional connections to big concepts like friendship and loyalty and rural life — and just telling me that Budweiser equals America.” For starters, Godes says there's a difference between conscious and subconscious processing of information. “When I watch the ad with the horse and puppy, I may not overtly make any connection between the brand and ‘America.’ However, we know that the brain works like a network, connecting concepts instantaneously — from horse and puppy to loyalty to America, without me even knowing. On the other hand, when they tell me directly that I should think of America when I think of Budweiser, my first reaction is ‘Why?’ This approach invites an active, and possibly counter-argumentative, response.” Godes says messages are often more persuasive when stated indirectly. “For years, by creating and running powerful and thoughtful ads, Budweiser has truly been walking the walk,” he says. “I worry that this latest attempt is more about talking the talk.”

The threat of craft beer: Professor William Rand calls the rebranding a “bold marketing move” for Anheuser-Busch. But he says it likely won’t help the company regain the market share lost to an array of craft beer makers. “Beer drinkers in the United States now consume more craft beer — all brands together — than Budweiser,” he says. “The gambit by InBev to remake Budweiser as America's beer, by literally calling it ‘America,’ will primarily appeal to those who drink Budweiser and other mainstream beers, and will probably do well in that market. But it will fail to expand Budweiser's market share among craft beer drinkers, maybe partially since many of them realize that since the purchase of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, Budweiser is no longer even an American beer, but a Belgian one.”

The Opportunities and Challenges of Doing Business with India

Participants at the Robert H. Smith School of Business's 2016 Emerging Markets Forum agreed that India's rapid growth offered opportunities for both local and American businesses, but they disagreed about whether the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was moving quickly enough to cut red tape. This was the sixth annual Emerging Markets Forum, organized by the Smith School's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). Read more ...

The 'Echoverse': A New Way to Think About Brand-Consumer Interactions

Most studies of the interactions between companies and consumers look at one piece of the puzzle: Advertising or social media or news coverage or consumer sentiment as measured in surveys. An ambitious new study from the Smith School examines how messages about brands across various channels interact in a complex set of feedback loops the authors call the "echoverse." Read more...

Smith Undergrads Take Second in Wake Forest Marketing Analytics Summit

A team of five undergraduates from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business took home second place in this year’s Wake Forest Marketing Analytics Summit, a case competition held annually at WFU’s campus in Winston-Salem, N.C. After 2 weeks of preparation and an intense day of competition, the students returned triumphantly to College Park with the second place trophy and $5,000 in prize winnings. Smith won the competition in 2015, 2013 and 2009.

Using Big Data to Match Students and Colleges

It's college decision time for many high-school seniors, but the process that students and their families use to choose where they'll enroll is far from optimal. They "look at prices, and they look at rankings, but they might not put emphasis on other details that might be more important," says Anamaria Berea, a postdoctoral research associate at the Smith School. Berea's research may lead to better matches between students and colleges. Read more ...

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