Cambridge Group, LSAT Logic, and Budweiser's Drinkability (PDF)

LSAT Blog Cambridge LSAT PDF Group Logic4 years ago, Anheuser-Busch (the good people who make Budweiser and Bud Light) launched a marketing campaign called "Drinkability." This was based on the recommendation of The Cambridge Group, a management consulting firm.

A potential problem: The Cambridge Group is not a marketing firm. Management consulting firms generally focus on compiling reports, performing detailed analysis, and making suggestions for improved efficiency, etc. (wikipedia).

Does this necessarily qualify them to make recommendations about marketing campaigns for Budweiser or Bud Light?

Recently, Advertising Age suggested otherwise:
[Anheuser-Busch] scrapped 'Drinkability' for the Super Bowl. The firm, The Cambridge Group, ended up going far beyond portfolio management. In fact, its exhaustive research resulted in the "Drinkability" campaign that -- four years and millions in fees later -- is considered a major factor in Bud Light posting the first full-year sales decline in its history.
So, we have a correlation. When The Cambridge Group wasn't involved in designing any Bud Light marketing campaigns, there was no full-year sales decline. The Cambridge Group gets involved, and voila! We have the 1st full-year sales decline in Bud Light's history.

Does this mean that The Cambridge Group's involvement caused the decline?

Not necessarily.

Maybe something totally unrelated caused Bud Light's sales decline.

It's possible that:

-people finally realized Bud Light tastes like piss
-a new beer came out that's geared to Bud Light drinkers
-there's been a general decline in beer consumption

In fact, maybe the sales decline would've been even worse if The Cambridge Group hadn't stepped in.

However, a little additional evidence suggests that it might actually be a full-fledged causal relationship, instead of just a correlational one.

In other words, The Cambridge Group is probably somewhat responsible.

The AdAge article continues:
Cambridge's exhaustive findings led directly to dramatic shifts in how Budweiser and Bud Light were marketed. Each brand largely abandoned the emotional appeals that had helped them become the two largest beer brands in the U.S. for straightforward pitches about process and product attributes that coincided with worsening sales for both labels.

Frankly, Bud Light's Drinkability commercials suck.

Here are a few:

Bud Light Drinkability Pool Party

Bud Light Drinkability Cabin Party

Bud Light Drinkability SuperBowl 2009

Bud Light - The Budget Cuts

The evidence suggests that Cambridge should stick to what it does best and leave the advertising to all the qualified Don Drapers out there.

Another common LSAT flaw is assuming just because someone is an expert in one area, they're also an expert in a different area.

For example, just because Steven Levitt is a top-notch economist, this doesn't mean he knows anything about how to perform this dance.

Similarly, Cambridge focuses on management/strategy consulting. It fills its marketing materials with all sorts of jargon (PDF), but none of it seems to involve their skill in advertising or marketing.

If a company's marketing materials cover all its areas of expertise (and if this one PDF is representative of Cambridge's marketing materials), then it's safe to say that Cambridge is not an expert in marketing or advertising.

It should keep its hands off our beer commercials so we can enjoy Budweiser ads that make "emotional appeals," like this one:

Betcha didn't think I could relate Budweiser's Wazzzup commercial to the LSAT.

Photo by dietsch / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0