Budweiser’s Retirement #ThisBudsFor3 Shirt Tribute Salutes Dwyane Wade The Inspirational Role Model

As Dwyane Wade plays the final game of his illustrious NBA career, the league’s official beer Budweiser celebrates his on-court success and pays tribute to his legacy of goodwill through an initiative called #ThisBudsFor3.


Wade has been a role model and an inspiration to many through his multiple cause initiatives and ways of giving back through projects such as the Dwyane Wade Foundation, the ‘Spotlight On’ initiative and ‘Pitch Black’ concept and Budweiser’s surprise stunt honoured this part of his legacy.


Throughout his final season, Wade has been swapping jerseys with many NBA legends and so Budweiser chose to surprise him with five more precious shirts: not ones worn by hoops superstars, but by those everyday people and fans whose lives he has touched and changed.


An emotional film starts with Wade standing on a dark court expecting to simply meet a few fans, but instead a procession of five people whose lives Wade has impacted and improved approach him to give him their shirt and thank him for positively impacting their own lives.


From his own mother’s story of how he helped her from prison to redemption, to a women he helped back onto her feet after her home burned down, and from a law graduate who benefitted from a Wade foundation scholarship, to a man inspired at Wade’s Miami youth centre and the sister of Joaquin Oliver (a student killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and to whom Wade dedicated his season).


The surprise presentation was promoted through a central 4-minute online film,



which was supported by a shorter, 90-second version.



The hero film and supporting campaign aired on Budweiser’s social channels and ran on local Miami TV and in the American Airlines Arena on 9 April.



Budweiser also extended the campaign to allow consumers and fans to share, on social media, three things that Dwyane Wade has done to impact their lives, for a chance to get a jersey signed by him.



This campaign mechanic is like a virtual jersey swap: with the brand offering light and snackable ways for fans to engage via Instagram and Twitter.


This was further supported with other activation strands across social media and in-arena connected by campaign hashtags #ThisBudsFor3#OneLastDance.



The campaign was developed in harness with VaynerMedia, and the planning and creative teams worked with the player’s sister, Tragil Wade, who helped them find the stories and the people who meaningfully showed the true nature of his character off the court.


The campaign was created for a Budweiser marketing team led by Group Vice President, Core & Value Ricardo Marques, Vice President of Marketing Monica Rustgi, Senior Brand Director Madison Pietrowski, Director of Budweiser Sports Matt Davis, Director of Marketing Communications Jenna Knoll and Brand Manager Hayley Kahn by creative and production agency VaynerMedia, New York with music by JSM Music.


“This idea came to us from VaynerMedia,” said Monica Rustgi, Budweiser’s vice-president of marketing.


“We thought the best way to start [casting] would be through the Dwyane Wade Foundation. The journey of finding the roster of people in the spot kept getting more meaningful as we progressed. Once we contacted the (Foundation) we learned that it was actually Dwyane Wade’s sister, Tragil, who leads the foundation. With that, this ultimately became a family affair.”


“We wanted to make sure we did justice to the stories, fully. We’re proud of our ability to honor Wade and shed light on his character,” said Rustgi.


‘We wanted to zig while the sports world zagged’, said VaynerMedia’s campaign press statement.




This eye-catching approach has led to a touching film revolving around a jersey exchange film that focuses on the fans a star has impacted rather than on his sporting skills and successes.


It seems plenty of fans and consumers were moved too.



It reflects Budweiser’s strategy of not simply inserting itself into the conversation around the properties it sponsors, but to really shed light on the impact athletes have on the communities they represent.


To use the access that comes with its rights to bring the athletes and their personality and off-court stories closer to their fans.


This tactic has become easier since Budweiser reached deals with the MLB and NBA players unions last year (as yet the brand has no such deals with the NHL or the NFL) that enabled the beer brand to use active players in its advertising (previously the company could only use former players).


“For us, it’s a huge milestone as it pertains to how we advertise and market,” Rustgi said.


“Budweiser has a long legacy of sports marketing, one of the first to understand the opportunity to bring our message to sports. But we realized we had to evolve, pivot from being the billboard in the stadium to being a meaningful part of the sports story.”


According to Sports 1 Marketing and S1Media founder David Meltzer, the acquisition of player rights can be a big step for the beer brand and if the viral success of the Wade video is anything to go by he is right.


“People buy on emotion for logical reasons,” Meltzer said. “AB InBev’s acquisition of the rights to use MLB and NBA players in uniform is certainly a big change for the brewer and, as the recent Dwayne Wade ad shows, this is a great way to tie in relevant athletes and their emotional stories to the Budweiser brands.”


The video illustrates how Budweiser tells deeper stories in sports with active athletes and it continues Budweiser’s increasingly strong heritage of creative retirement tributes to some of its super star sports endorsers: other recent examples include its campaigns for New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter (see case study)
and NASCAR super star Dale Earnhardt Jr (see case study).


Budweiser wasn’t the only one to run marketing initiatives leveraging Wade’s retirement: others included Gatorade



the Miami Heat,



and even media owners such as Twitter.



Plus, during the same final week of the regular NBA season, other brands paid tribute to retiring Dallas Maverick legend Dirk Nowitzki such as DAZN’s #All41



and Nike.













Vayner Media


Leave a comment


Featured Showcases

Leave a comment