For the first time in the brand’s history, Budweiser is offering an alcohol-free beer.
With the help of NBA star Dwyane Wade, who co-founded the new product and helped to define some of its “core attributes,” the brand is marketing the product as a way to live a “balanced lifestyle” without compromising on experience or taste. Called Budweiser Zero, the new brew is just 50 calories and contains zero sugar.
The launch is just the latest example of Anheuser-Busch’s response to a broader wellness trend within the alcohol industry. Amid a new focus on ingredients and calorie counts, that trend is also pushing consumers toward lower- and no-alcohol beverage options. Budweiser marketing vp Monica Rustgi said in a statement that the brand has watched “hundreds” of new options enter the market over the past year, with non-alcoholic drinks “quickly rising in popularity.”
“Budweiser has an incredible opportunity to propel this movement into mainstream culture by offering a product that doesn’t compromise on the quality and taste people have come to know and love from Budweiser, a brand they trust,” said Rustgi.
It also provides a way for athletes—or health nuts—to kick back with beer without compromising on their training regimen or nutritional goals. As a former professional athlete, Wade played a central role in helping Budweiser achieve a product that would work for folks in the midst of training.
“Budweiser has been a great partner of mine over the past two years and this was a natural next step,” said Wade in a statement. “Bud Zero is a game changer by letting athletes enjoy the taste of a refreshing beer without impacting their mental and physical game.”
Short promotional spots introducing the product began running on linear last week, and Wade will be appearing in a TV spot that’s coming later this year, to air on ESPN and Sports Center. The goal of the campaign is to disrupt and de-stigmatize the non-alcoholic beer industry, the brand said, by partnering with athletes across the NBA, NWSL, MLB and PGA for in-game promotions. When stadiums and arenas are filled again, AB plans to promote the Budweiser Zero as the official drink of the fourth quarter and ninth inning when alcoholic beverages cannot be sold.
Budweiser previously worked with Wade, surprising him with a tribute before his final home NBA game. In a moving spot, the brand reintroduced him to five people whose lives he helped improve over the course of his career.