It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill - I know the Super Bowl is old news but I'm still angry. No, not at the score; I wanted
the Patriots to win. I'm upset over that Budweiser commercial. Of course I don't mean the cute
one reuniting a lost puppy with its best friend, the company’s iconic Clydesdale horse. The ad
that's got my dander up was entitled “Brewed the Hard Way”. It mocked not only craft beer,
but also the people who enjoy it.
If you didn't see the ad,it begins by noting that Budweiser “is not brewed to be fussed over”
and ends with the tagline: “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some
golden suds.” Ah, hello guy,it was only a month or so ago that Budweiser’s parent company
bought well-known Seattle craft brewery Elysian . Among the beers that brewery made last
year was Gourdgia on my Mind Pecan Peach Pumpkin Amber.
In fact, Budweiser’s parent company has quietly been buying craft breweries and launching its
own craft-style brands for the past few years. The Shock Top brand is produced by the
company also has a pumpkin seasonal. Anheuser-Busch also owns organic craft brewery
Green Valley, Goose Island, and stakes in Red Hook Brewing and Widmer Brothers.
So these knuckleheads created an ad that essentially attacks brands the company has spent
millions of dollars acquiring. “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale,” the ad copy read, in
between cliché-ridden images of mustachioed men in hipster glasses sniffing effete brews out
of fancy glasses. Bill, I'm sure you know that Elysian Brewing, which AB-InBev purchased less
than a month ago, is known for producing beers that would seem to be similarly worthy of
poking fun at, such as Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale and Superfuzz Blood Orange. The
brewer had, in fact, made a Pecan Peach Pumpkin Amber beer just last year.
In that light (and just about any other one) the ad was puzzling, hypocritical and foolish.
Now Bill, before you say I'm over reacting please not that craft fans, casual beer drinkers and
brewers all over the beer spectrum have complained. Social media is filled with Bud’s attack
counterattacks on Bud and its owner, the multinational monolith Anheuser-Busch InBev.
An there's more. The ad struck me as an attack on any beer made for tasting good as
opposed to one brewed merely for drinking for the sake of drinking. It confusingly showed a
company trying to sell beer by casting Millennial foodies as a pretentious out-group to be
mocked. Dare I say with is a somewhat odd approach to winning over young drinkers, which,
presumably, is AB-InBev’s goal. And just why is that a concern? A recent company study
found that 44% of drinkers aged 21 to 27 have never tried the Budweiser despite it being
the third-most-popular beer brand in America, behind Bud Light and Coors Light. It hard for
them not to notice that at the brand's peak in 1988, it was selling 50 million barrels of beer a
year. That number has now declined to 16 million barrels. Ouch.
Well, there you have my anti-Bud rant. I could go on but then you wouldn't have room to
answer (agree) with me.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time.
Hey Gina, did you forget that the Super Bowl was a football game? It was only a commercial after
all. Okay, settle down, I too was surprised they air something as antagonistic as that. Maybe
they didn't appreciate the huge backlash that was bound to follow. Well, I can tell you they but
they sure see it now. I checked social media and found that Budweiser took a slight step back
from its mocking messaging in replies on its own Twitter feed. How's this one: "We respect craft
brewing. Beer is for all people." and this one: " We're not anti-craft. Just pro-Bud."
A bit weak for sure so it's no surprise that the anti-Bud backlash continues. Now before you start
cheering please remember that it's quite likely that this tempest will have no directly impact on
Budweiser sales. However, you put your finger on what I see is a larger cause for concern, which
was likely the true motivation behind the ad. Your stats on Bud's declining sales tells the tale.
Indeed, their market share has fallen from 8.4% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013. (Bud Light remains the
country’s most consumed beer, with an 18% market share.)
I'm sure you agree with many who felt insulted by ad that perhaps Budweiser should spend more
money making their "beers" better instead of on lame commercials mocking craft beer/craft beer
drinkers. And for the record I did chuckle at your tweet that said Budweiser is not really beer; Its
a chemical engineered impostor, like margarine. And yes, I agree with one of your other tweets
chastising Anheuser-Busch for leading the campaign to make the listing of ingredients on beer
labels mandatory. I'd want to keep all those adjuncts as hidden too. But there's one thing that
you really didn't mention that bothered me about the ad, it was aimed at people who drink to
experience the effects of alcohol and nothing much else. In essence it seemed to be an attack on
any beer made for tasting good as opposed to one brewed merely for drinking for the sake of
It also seemed to me that Bud was teasing certain craft brewers who have mass-market
aspirations and that's okay with me. On one level I got the impression that all the ad really
wanted to do was remind Bud drinkers exactly why they are Bud drinkers; they simply enjoy
"beer". In fact the ad commended them for not tn being the infuriatingly, pretentious, fussy folks
who, if they weren't overanalyzing someone's craft beer, then they would be fussing over
somebody wine, liquor, or cocktail.
And to add a bit more fuel to your anti-Bud fire I know many a Czech who hates Anheuser-
Busch, To them, Bud very existence is an insult to a much better and older Czech beer with the
same name, enjoyed by people of all stripes. Even the slogan "King of Beers" is stolen from
"Beer of Kings" referring to the royal charter grating brewing rights to Budějovice (Budweis).
Having said all of that let me leave you with a consoling thought. Just relax. Let people drink
whatever they want. And if that really happens, in the long run good taste will win out and craft
will rule the world! Don't you feel better now?
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.