How Bud Light Made 'Dilly Dilly' Into a Viral Sensation

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The new "Dilly Dilly" ad that will debut on Monday. 

It's been months since it first hit airwaves, but Bud Light's "Dilly Dilly" commercials are increasingly pervasive. The utterly ridiculous series of commercials have had some staying power. (There are now four of them after a new one titled "Wizard" premieres on December 25. Get a preview of the new spot at the top of the page.) Many see it and wonder what "dilly dilly" means, but that hasn't stopped it from taking on a life outside the commercials with craft breweries riffing on it, clothing, and even a "Dilly Dilly" Christmas light display.

"After we launched 'Banquet' [the first commercial] we began to see sports fans, media, wedding guests and people all over social media using the phrase organically on their own," Andy Goeler, VP of Bud Light, tells Thrillist, "with signs on College Gameday, tweets, on-air broadcast mentions, and even Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers calling a 'Dilly Dilly' audible."

Despite its ubiquity, it might not surprise you something this ridiculous almost didn't make it to air. 

"To tell you the truth, we never expected this to be so successful," Miguel Patricio, Chief Marketing Officer at Anheuser-Busch InBev, told Business Insider at the recent IGNITION conference. "It didn't test that well. We did that ad, actually, because of -- the new season of 'Game of Thrones' coming, but when we tested, it didn't test that well."

Despite the poor testing, there was a certain amount of success felt almost instantly. "As a marketer, you live for moments when something you’ve created resonates and connects with consumers beyond the first laugh in a new ad or piece of content," Goeler said. "With [the phrase] popping up months after the spot initially launched -- we knew we were onto something. So, once that started to happen, we realized we should just let this evolve and let the people take charge of the saying.

"Our goal with any of the content we create is to tap into culture and become part of the conversations that people are having -- especially conversations over a beer. If you look at the history of Bud Light’s advertising, we’ve always been a brand that has played a big role in tapping into what’s relevant in pop culture or create pop culture moments of our own with campaigns like 'Wassup,' 'Real Men of Genius,' and 'I Love You, Man.' Our brand is about being with friends, having fun and being a part of culture -- if we’re doing that, then we’re being successful."

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.