- Michelob Ultra has partnered with Formula 1 team Williams Racing for a television special where racers will compete in a real-versus-virtual 16-lap race, in keeping with a press release.
- During “Laps of Legends,” one real driver will compete against virtual versions of former Williams Racing pros. The one-hour broadcast will air within the spring of 2024 on AMC, BBC America and The Roku Channel.
- The virtual race was made possible using artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) technology. Drivers featured in the published include Jenson Button, Jacques Villeneuve and Mario Andretti.
Michelob Ultra is seeking to broaden its sports appeal through a race between Formula 1 legends that’s being realized with an assist from AI. Formula 1 has seen an enormous uptick in popularity within the U.S. in recent times because of streaming, though a few of that interest has been tested by a patchy racing season and controversial events.
Still, there might be opportunities for marketers like Michelob Ultra to succeed in engaged FI diehards. The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand has long focused on sports to construct its consumer base, resulting in massive industrial success for the beer. During the NFL opening weekend, Michelob Ultra was the preferred draft beer.
“Laps of Legends” just isn’t the primary time the marketer has leveraged AI technology to enable otherwise unimaginable match-ups between pros past and present. In May 2022, Michelob Ultra claimed to air the world’s first hybrid tennis match, wherein John McEnroe played against versions of himself during different points in his storied profession. The activation was made possible using computer simulations and ball return machines.
“We’re once more using technology in service of great storytelling. With ‘Lap of Legends,’ we’re delivering Michelob Ultra’s standpoint with a novel piece of entertainment that fans will most surely enjoy,” said Ricardo Marques, vice chairman of selling for the brand, in an announcement.
The TV special comes as parent company AB InBev looks to make up for ground lost resulting from a lengthy controversy surrounding its hottest offering, Bud Light. The brewing giant saw U.S. revenue decline 13.5% in Q3. During an earnings call, CEO Michel Doukeris discussed the importance of Michelob Ultra in the corporate’s global performance.
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