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Budweiser: Light Up the Nation

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In Canada hockey is life and the country’s biggest beer consumption occasion. In September 2016, Canada hosted all comers in a best-on-best international tournament, the perfect opportunity for Budweiser to connect with hockey-mad Canada. The problem for Budweiser, however, was that its number one competitor in the beer category was the official sponsor. Agency Anomaly decided that to reach fans, it needed to think not like a sponsor but like a hockey fan – and celebrate the game’s most iconic moment: goals.

The agency designed a real-time marketing strategy built around the insight that Canadians have a deep-rooted desire to let the world know that hockey is THEIR game, and that they love nothing better than to get together with fellow Canadians to celebrate their goals.

Building off the past success of the Budweiser Red Light – a physical goal light that flashes when your city scores – the agency saw an opportunity to connect with Canadians and elevate hockey’s most electrifying moments in an exciting new way. Using the iconic Red Light as its inspiration, “Light Up the Nation” became the world’s first hockey goal-synced beer campaign.


When Canada scores and that goal light goes off, the arena explodes. The agency sought to capture that electric real-time excitement by building a comprehensive content and distribution strategy, and executed an eight month-long campaign to drive awareness and momentum, culminating in the month of September.

The approach:

1) Celebrate – Build a 30-foot high Red Light and send it to the top of the world
2) Democratise – Put Red Light goal-synced glasses into the hands of 500,000 Canadians
3) Connect in real-time – Create dynamic Red Light digital OOH to connect with fans in high-emotion hockey moments.
4) Empower – Leverage social to arm fans with compelling tools to celebrate.

Budweiser “Light Up the Nation” represented an unrivalled integration of innovation, promotion, and sales-driving tactics that the beer category had never seen before. As well, Canada’s Goal Light and Red Light goal-triggered glasses were industry firsts, essentially creating two brand new media channels to connect with consumers.

Continuing its trend of firsts, Budweiser was the first advertiser to use dynamically served ads tied to a sporting feed, transforming digital columns into goal lights in the highest traffic transit hub in the country. As well, Budweiser was the first alcohol brand in Canada to use a Snapchat lens, seeing significantly superior cost per engagement numbers vs. other social channels and was one of Snapchat’s best-ever performing lens activations.

Ultimately, the goal was to boost Budweiser’s association with hockey, a critical driver of sales, and strengthen both consumption and “favourite brand” performance.


Canada’s Goal Light was announced with a :60 spot on the biggest stage in Canada, the February Super Bowl broadcast. From there, it embarked on a journey to the Arctic, with stops in major cities across the nation, inviting people to sign up online to get their names engraved. To further heighten awareness, the agency leveraged hockey celebrities and sports influencers, using regionally-targeted social to amplify the excitement as the Goal Light travelled.

In September, Budweiser provided an in-case offer that no hockey fan could refuse: a goal-synced Red Light glass that would light up whenever Canada scored. The promotion was supported by TV and digital in key markets to drive excitement and momentum.

Using YouTube’s Vogon unit to target Canada’s top 100 cities, video was dynamically served to provide customised Red Light content by city. The campaign would resonate on a personal level with Kevin in Kamloops or Henry in Halifax, while allowing them to feel connected to the rest of the country. 

On game days, digital OOH was activated to deliver topical content and to direct smack talk at the rival country Canada was playing that night.

In addition, OOH digital columns at Union Station were transformed into massive goal lights when Canada scored.

Partnering with Snapchat, Anomaly created a lens for game days, providing Canadians with fun tools to help celebrate goals and mock their rival, including a hockey helmet filter that they could customise and share with friends.


Light Up the Nation delivered big results, rallying an entire country around their passion for hockey in a nation-wide goal celebration, and cementing Budweiser’s role as the champion of Canada’s game.

The campaign:

• Drove a massive 20% increase in brand “hockey association”, a critical driver of sales

• Increased past four week consumption by an outstanding +2.2 pts vs. YAGO, growing share of segment in an exceptionally competitive category

• Triggered significant lifts on priority KPIs “favourite brand” and “brand that brings people together”

• Delivered outstanding ROI, producing a record 95MM earned impressions, the highest ever for a Budweiser hockey campaign

• Elevated the fan experience with the Red Light app trending to top spot at the App Store, and Red Light glasses appearing for sale on eBay for upwards of $100.

**(Budweiser is not an official sponsor of the NHL™ or any other hockey league, the World Cup of Hockey, or any participating hockey federations. This campaign is not licensed by, sponsored by, or otherwise associated with the National Hockey League™, any other hockey league, or any of their respective member teams.)**

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Brand Owner:
Anheuser-Busch InBev
Drinks (alcoholic)
February - September 2016
Media Channel:
  • FMAs shortlisted

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