• Jonathan Brannan

HOW DO BROWNS FANS COUNT TO 10?

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

This article was originally published on September 26th, 2018.


How do Cleveland Browns fans count to 10?


0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4, 0-5, 0-6, 0-7, 0-8, 0-9, 0-10.


The Browns have been a bit of a laughingstock in the NFL, since their reintroduction in 1999.


Unfortunately for Browns fans, the team has been having a hard time scraping together a win. With the team having not recorded a win in 635 days or 19 games. Their last victory came on Christmas Eve of 2016, a 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers. This was also their only win of that season.


Before the 2018 NFL season, Bud Light unveiled a rather odd marketing ploy, that we can all celebrate. Perhaps to make amends, for inflicting “Dilly Dilly” on the unsuspecting masses.


The idea, give out free beer to the people of Cleveland. The only catch, the Browns have to win a game.

Browns' wide receiver Corey Coleman after wasting a last second opportunity to win a game against the Steelers. Credit: dailymail.co.uk

The Promotion


As part of Anheuser-Busch's marketing ploy, they set up fridges in bars across the city of Cleveland. Each one filled with 200 cans of Bud Light, locked with chains, and adorned with the motivational phrase:


"When the Browns win, Cleveland wins."


As soon as the Browns win their first game, the chains will be opened and the free beer will be distributed to fans. From a marketing perspective, Bud Light's proclaimed 'Victory Fridge,' is a fantastic idea.


Andy Goeler, Bud Light's VP of Marketing stated "The Bud Light Browns 'Victory Fridge' is a fun way to celebrate and reward a fan base that has never wavered in enthusiasm or dedication for their team no matter what happens. We're proud to show our support for Cleveland, and we're always looking to bring NFL fans and friends together for memorable experiences."

One of the many Bud Light fridges placed across Cleveland. Credit: cnet.com

Execution


Bud Light has seen success before with a similar promotion. When the company fulfilled its promise to, Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman, Lane Johnson (@LaneJohnson65), when they won earlier this year.


Undoubtedly, this campaign has been a success for Bud Light. The PR around the campaign has created the "un-Super Bowl," around every 2018 Browns game. Each Browns' loss (or tie) amps up the hype for the following game.


When will the Browns win and unlock all that free Bud Light? What a great national story.

Bud Light has created a PR factory of happiness at a local level. The Bud Light 'Victory Fridges,' builds great local talk value. Before games, fans will hunt down the bars where the 'Victory Fridges' are located. Patrons discuss the brand during the game and after the games as they anticipate the next game.


The best part of this idea for Bud Light is that there are three acts to this promotion. First, there is the anticipation; second, the games themselves and third, the ultimate victory celebration.


During the anticipation phase, Bud Light received unlimited free media. From the moment the 'Victory Fridges' were placed into the FirstEnergy Stadium and bars around Cleveland. Local, national, and international news outlets covered the story, building knowledge and excitement far beyond northern Ohio.

The Tension


Then comes the games themselves. As the NFL season starts the natural energy of the games builds tension.


In week one, the Browns' fans' hopes where high. The Steelers had six turnovers, and the Browns rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to force overtime. Browns' kicker, Zane Gonzalez lined up for a game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left.


The first chance of those Bud Light victory fridges opening. Gonzalez's kick was blocked and the game ended in a tie.


Bud Light was on everyone's mind at the end of the game. The brand announced on Twitter that even though the tie technically ended the team's 17-game losing streak, the fridges would remain locked.

The following week in New Orleans, Drew Brees (@drewbrees) showed his quality, leading the Saints to victory over the Browns.


Week 3 didn't start out well for the Browns either. On Thursday night when the Cleveland Browns hosted the New York Jets. The Browns found themselves in an early hole, down 14-0 near the end of the first half. After 635 days, it looked like the 'Victory Fridges' would stay closed for at least another 10 games.


But then with 1:42 left in the second quarter, starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor (@TyrodTaylor) was sacked for the third time. After being downed by linebacker Avery Williamson (@AWilliamson54), Taylor would struggle to get back to his feet. Browns fans turned to their number 1 draft pick, Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield), to ignite a spark.


With the Cleveland crowd roaring, Mayfield completed a 14-yard pass to Jarvis Landry (@God_Son80) with his first pass as a pro. He then found tight end David Njoku (@David_Njoku80) for 17 yards, driving Cleveland into field-goal position. South African born kicker, Greg Joseph, who signed with the team on Monday following a tryout, drilled a low line drive to pull the Browns off zero points.


Mayfield soon tied the game 14-14 on a 7-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a powerful one-yard TD score by Carlos Hyde (@elguapo). Followed by a two-point convention 'Philly Special.'


The Jets regained the lead, 17-14. Thanks to a 28-yard field goal by Jason Myers (@JayMy_31) with 8:56 left in the game.


Mayfield would take over again at the Browns' 25. The rookie quarterback engineered a 15-play, 75-yard TD drive. It ended on a 1-yard run by Carlos Hyde, who got to the stadium late because his girlfriend was in labor with their baby.

Celebrations


After a number of nervous moments and close calls, finally, the chains come off the 'Victory Fridges,' rewarding the good people of northeast Ohio.


Thousands of pictures and videos, from the celebrations where shared of the branded fridges and of happy Cleveland fans pounding Bud Light. Social media will be awash with photos giving Bud Light a flurry of free media, locally and nationally.

The success is more than just the free press. Bud Light will forever be associated with a Browns victory and happiness. The supporter of the underdog. Sports fans can be superstitious, so there is every reason that we could see Cleveland fans wielding Bud Lights every Sunday, from now on.


So what happens to all those Bud Light "Victory Fridges" that were unlocked. According to a Bud Light communications representative:


“There are no plans to remove the Cleveland Browns Bud Light Victory Fridges from their current locations.”


The owner of Merry Arts Pub & Grille, where one of the 'Victory Fridges' is located has a plan for one. He plans to reach out to the Browns to see if Baker Mayfield would be able to sign the fridge in hopes of auctioning off for charity.


Oh, and in case you didn't know, Bud Light has declared Baker Mayfield the "breaker of chains."

It was a genius bit of marketing, and the most positive attention the Browns had received since fans held a high-spirited parade to celebrate their "perfect" 0-16 season last year.

See, America?! Good things can come eventually...even to Cleveland.

Success of the Victory Fridge campaign in numbers. Credit: prweek.com