Budweiser lights up hockey fandom with wi-fi lights

Chris Powell February 04, 2013

Budweiser has seen the light. The beer brand has launched a new marketing program called “Budweiser Red Lights” around Wi-Fi enabled replica hockey goal lights that flash and make a goal horn sound whenever a user’s favourite hockey team scores.

Budweiser is selling the lights for $149 at Budweiser.ca, although a company representative said it would likely go into the, ahem, red on the production of the units.

“We’re not in this to make money off Red Lights,” said Kyle Norrington, marketing director for Budweiser in Toronto. “We’re in the game of elevating the experience for hockey-loving fans across the country.”

While Norrington said he anticipates a “high demand” for the Red Lights, he was unsure about how many units the company expects to sell.

Fans activate the lights via a free mobile app, choosing teams from the various NHL cities. (Since Budweiser is no longer an official NHL sponsor following a lengthy legal battle with Molson Coors over sponsorship rights), the app features only the names of cities that are home to NHL teams rather than the names of the teams themselves).

“We are not a sponsor of the NHL, but we are a super-fan of hockey and we support hockey at multiple levels,” said Norrington.

The app also delivers a “five minutes to game time” alert to users.

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“It became clear to us really quickly that goals are those moments where the emotion around hockey starts to kick in,” Norrington said via telephone from New Orleans, where he was gearing up to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl. “It was clear to us that that was a moment we wanted to attach ourselves to… We wanted to bring a little bit of that magic to homes across the country.”

The program officially launched Sunday with a 60-second TV spot that aired during the Super Bowl (a 30-second cutdown has also been created). The “Perfect Timing” spot from Anomaly cuts between a group of fans anxiously watching the game at home and Budweiser employees packing up the light, driving to the house and installing it just in time for the game-winning goal.

The campaign will also introduce a new Budweiser character called Ron Kovacs, a fictional hockey fanatic who is credited with creating the Red Light. His story is being told through a series of videos on Budweiser’s Facebook page, as well as on Twitter at @BudRedLights.

Throughout the season, Kovacs – who, according to the company, is a “huge hockey fan” – will be dispatched to install the Budweiser Red Lights in the homes, offices, garages and dens of hockey fans.

Norrington said that the Super Bowl spot is the start of a broader initiative for the Red Light program. “This is just the start of a bigger narrative around our mission to elevate goals across the country,” he said. “There’s plenty more to come.”