Michelob Ultra has made a straightforward user image commercial. The brand would like beer drinkers to believe that it is the choice of young, fit people who are making a serious effort to stay in shape. That may or may not be true, but truth is not required. All that is needed to associate a particular user image with a brand is repeated, memorable pairings. People find it hard to distinguish familiarity from accuracy. Repeated pairings allow a brand to fashion its user image and to attach that image to the brand name.
A broadly held user image is a powerfully persuasive tool. Judging brands objectively is difficult, so we place great stock in our perception of the people who buy them. User image imbues a brand with an emotional benefit that is largely independent of the physical attributes of the product. Purchasers feel they will appear to others as the person they would like to be. In fact, an attractive user image even makes private consumption of the brand more enjoyable because it allows the consumer to appear to themselves as the person they would like to be.
Michelob Ultra has 95 calories, which is about the same as Miller Lite or Coors Light and about half the carbs of those brands. Those facts, however, don’t make the sale. They just don’t fight the sale. If people were driven to avoid calories and carbs, they would drink water. People will choose Michelob Ultra based on who they think is drinking it.
The ad has gotten almost a million views on YouTube. The production of the ad makes it watchable and sharable. The contrast between the sweaty, grimacing faces of exercisers and the “Happy Face” soundtrack entertains and involves the viewer.
Overall, a nice combination of strategy and artistry.