I would choose experiential over television any day- Kartikeya Sharma, marketing director, AB InBev

A brand with an experiential first approach, Budweiser has remained true to its purpose of dominating the music space through partnerships with Supersonic, Sensation White, Electric Daisy carnival, Enchanted Valley and now, Tomorrowland. Ahead, Kartikeya Sharma, marketing director for India and SE Asia, AB InBev reveals the brand's secret to creating meaningful experiences in the attempt to constantly up its A-game.


If given a choice between an average television campaign and a brilliant experiential campaign, which would you choose in the context of India? Why?

Experiential campaign all the way, no questions asked. Why – because we believe the most authentic brand stories are experienced, not heard.

That said, our belief in building powerful brands involves delivering campaigns that balance story-telling with story-doing.

What is the share of experiential in your marketing pie?

The share of spends on experiential differs across our brand portfolio. On the premium end of our portfolio (Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois & Hoegaarden), have a higher share, whereas on the entry level end of the portfolio (Haywards 5000, Knock Out, and Fosters) have a lower share.

You have been associated with VH1 Supersonic and EDC. Which partnership worked better?

Our roster of partnerships goes beyond these two and includes many more partnerships like Tomorrowland, Sensation, Boiler Room, Don’t Let Daddy Know and Enchanted Valley Carnival among others.

To pick one partnership amongst this lot would be unfair to the others given the scope and nature of our involvement.

The Boiler room partnership has been incredible from the stand point of pushing the music culture with a focus on niche artists and sounds. EDC and Sensation on the other hand have allowed us the opportunity to bring world-class EDM platforms to Indian consumers, while Supersonic has helped us to do a bit of both.

On the whole, we’re incredibly excited with the portfolio of partnerships Budweiser has stitched up and it gives us a very strong reason to believe that we’re going to continue to shape and elevate the music space in India.

Tell us some instances how you implemented the Budweiser experience at either of these music festivals.

We’ve cast a wide net of ‘first of its kind’ experiences across the festivals we’ve engaged in so far. Sensation in Hyderabad saw us introduce the concept of Bud Hotel customized with unique experiences for our consumers. At Electric Daisy Carnival, we created a brand experience zone called the “Brew District” which brought together a whole bunch of handpicked tastemakers embodying the values of ambition, freedom & authenticity. The Brew District offered curated events like ‘What’s Brewing’ sessions by Progressive Brothers, ‘Buds and Burgers’ lunch hosted by celebrated Chef Kelvin Cheung, fun filled picnic-style Sunday brunches and a special night performances at the ‘Brew Club’ by artists like Dualist Inquiry, Anish Sood, etc. Apart from this, we had created “Budweiser brew house” in the EDC grounds which gave an exclusive access to main-stage for our guests along with special robots serving our products to everyone.

How is Budweiser reinforcing its partnership with Tomorrowland for Indian audiences?

Budweiser’s association with the world’s biggest electronic music festival- Tomorrowland is a testament to the fact that we are committed to the objective of shaping electronic music culture. 2017 marks the second year of our association with Tomorrowland.

The highlight of this campaign is Budweiser India’s collaboration with electronic music artist, Lost Stories, the only Indian duo who will be representing India at Tomorrowland this year.  Tomorrowland lovers in India will get a slice-of-life experience of the festival as Budweiser recreates the fun and fervor through a series of events called “Road to Tomorrowland” which will culminate with the live-streaming from Belgium. These events are themed and tailor-made to build excitement for Tomorrowland by offering a glimpse into the world’s largest electronic music experience with mesmerizing production and sound design. The campaign will conclude with streaming the festival live from Belgium at Budweiser flagship accounts across India for Tomorrowland fans.

You announced the launch of music IP 'What’s Brewing' last year. What has been the development since?

Our commitment to shape the electronic music culture and promote homegrown Indian talent led us to the launch of our global property- “What’s Brewing” in India. This property not only provides a platform to homegrown Indian talent by giving them captive audience in our partner outlets but also brings in international properties like Boiler Room to India which is the world’s largest underground event attracting leading offbeat and established artists.  This platform provides a beautiful audio-visual experience to our audience and has started to open up this space for newer artists to come out and perform.  We have very strong plans to nurture this IP and make it even stronger in 2017 and 2018.

Is Budweiser's commitment towards experiential marketing poised to increase? If so, in what direction?

Absolutely. As mentioned above, experiential plays and will continue to play a very important role in our marketing mix. It is a very important medium wherein our consumer interacts closely with not only our product but also its brand world. Budweiser’s core values- Freedom, Ambition and Authenticity are at the heart of everything it does especially while creating amazing experiences for our consumers. We are committed to shape electronic music in India and we will continue to invest ahead of the curve in creating great experiences. 

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