Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.57.09 PM

Why the pro-macro beer Budweiser ad is so dangerous

On the night of the Superbowl, there are lots of surprises. Long-forgotten rappers from the 1990s and people dancing in hilarious fake shark suits make guest appearances during the halftime show. There are miraculous catches, and near-misses. And then last night, there was this:

The above ad is by far the most clear and definitive anti-craft beer advertisement I’ve ever seen – and it was aired during the Superbowl to an audience of millions. While you may have had the same visceral reaction I did, here’s what makes the ad both so effective and so threatening to craft beer. First, it’s the first time that instead of changing the conversation with horses and puppies, it’s stared directly into the camera and declared itself. These are their terms. This is Budweisers’ manifesto – and despite the details that make it hypocritical, it’s a very powerful ad, and craft brewers are going to be feeling the repercussions for a while.

“Budweiser, proudly a macro beer.”

First, we have the statement of “Budweiser, proudly a macro beer.” There’s so much just in this sentence. We’ve called Budweiser and the like “macro” beer as an opposite term to the “micro” breweries – and have used it in a derogatory sense for some time. But, much like oppressed cultures can take back words and re-claim them as their own (for instance, the term “gay” in the GLBT community has been reclaimed as a sense of pride instead of a slur). In this instance, AB-InBev seems to be similarly standing by this term. They’re saying, “We’re happy to be large, we’re happy to have shiny, big tanks that are better than yours.” The images behind the text feature the ingredients in the first few shots – some barley, some hops and then some immaculate tanks. The message here is clear – that were big and we’re proud of being big. This I expected – I wasn’t expecting the use of the term “macro” in this ad, but I was expecting that they’d be touting their history, size or something once I started to realize this was a Budweiser-centric ad.

“It’s not brewed to be fussed over.”

The statement by itself is declarative. It means that they don’t care if people are huge gushing fans or not, and that they’re proud of not caring about that. But the images tell a different story. Admittedly, here’s where my interest in this new tact from AB-Inbev turned from intrigue into anger. I think what I dislike most is that basically the last frame is a caricature – almost a parody – of a hipster male beer drinker, drinking a “fussy” dark beer. You’ve got the elements of the jock poking fun at the nerd here. Overly done glasses, twirled mustache, and smelling his beer in order to make him as far away and as much of an “other” as possible from their target demographic. The goal is to get you to think that the person in this image is ridiculous.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.00.58 AM

 

And, that anyone that a) looks like that, or b) treats their beer like that must be some kind of an idiot. Also, for the locals, I think this looks incredibly like Dan Paquette of Pretty Things Beer, who recently made a stink about “pay to play” practices at bars. Intentional or not, it’s a shot across the bow to the creative types in the craft beer industry.

The challenge ahead for craft brewers: Defending your “fussy” beer, and your right to fuss over it.

“It’s brewed for a crisp smooth finish.”

Here we see the first of a few false dichotomies that are presented. The opposite of “fussy” is presented as “a crisp, smooth finish.” What the ad writers want us to think here, is that things that are straightforward are good, and things that are complex or slightly difficult to understand are bad. So “crisp” and “smooth” replace fussy, as being the good characteristics that people should look at. This is a classic advertising method in which anything complex or even slightly intelligent is brushed off as stuffy, too much work and the consumer is reassured by the fact that they “understand” the simpler product.

(As a side note, the image behind the “smooth finish” part of the video has one of my beer pouring pet peeves in it – the nozzle touching the beer during the pour. Eew.)

The challenge ahead for craft brewers: Using meaningful terms to describe your beer to consumers.

“This is the only beer Beechwood aged since 1876”

They got a lot of bang for the buck in this sentence. First, they make themselves stand out by leaving “this is the only beer” on screen over a logo-emblazoned glass – this is a subtle way of dividing up the sentence so that we remember the phrase, “Budweiser is the only beer.” Secondly, “Beechwood aged” means nothing to most people, so the fact that this is the “only beer Beechwood aged” is something that a viewer is not going to question at all. Throw in a date that’s longer than anyone watching the video has been alive and, voila – in one phrase you’ve made yourself have a history, a unique characteristic, and a believable superior quality (that no one really is going to question.)

The challenge ahead for brewers: Describing any process that you’ve been using for less than 100 years.

“There’s only one Budweiser.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.58.57 PM

 

This is a subtle re-wording of the take-home message of the previous section – stating their uniqueness, their ability to stand alone (which, subsequently also is the first time in this ad they’re actively denying the other brands in the AB-Inbev portfolio).

The challenge ahead for brewers: There are many, many more than one of you out there. You can’t be the “only one” IPA brewer, so what are you going to do to distinguish your brand?

“It’s brewed for drinking not dissecting.”

This is round two of the us-versus-them imagery presented with the first “fussy” image. Now we have three people – all male, but we’ll get to that later – that are also caricatures of hipsters, in a bar that’s decorated to look like an expensive, trendy gastropub. (Anyone catch that they misspelled “steak tartare?”).

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.59.11 PM

Again, we’re putting up a false dichotomy between “dissecting” a beer and “drinking” a beer, and this also has that slight anti-science vibe to it (probably added in there because of the recent polls about the difference between scientist opinions and public opinions on things like Global Warming and food). The message is clearly that you’re not ever supposed to think about beer, you’re just supposed to consume it. So why are you talking about your beer, you nerd? Be a good consumer and just DRINK it.

The challenge ahead for brewers: Reassuring your customers that dissecting beer is an okay – and worthwhile – pursuit. This includes questioning the quality of beer. 

“Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale.”

So… you know how AB-Inbev recently purchased a brewery named Elysian? You know what they were famous for? Pioneering pumpkin beer. [Update: Apparently, they also brewed a Pumpkin Peach Ale too.]

But again, we’re seeing the ad use the same tactic as before. We’ve got a “them” here that’s treated as other. It’s now clear that the “them” is the craft beer drinker. Let those hipster idiots “fuss” over and “dissect” their beer. AB is telling you things that are reassuring to anyone remotely insecure about their masculinity. The brand says, “You’re not geeky like that. You’re not going to drink a pumpkin peach ale, are you?” Now, this brings gender back into the picture, too. I think this is also calling out the apparent non-manliness of the craft beer drinker. The above examples have been thin, white, pale, hipster like men, and have been wearing sweaters and pondering their beers in the imagery. Are they the types that would drink a disgusting-sounding pumpkin peach ale? Of course they are. The ad is whispering, “Are you the type of person that would drink a pumpkin peach ale? Of course not. Because you’re not a frou-frou geek, are you? No. You’re a man.” And if you were the type that would try a pumpkin peach ale, you’ve already been outed as “them.”

The challenge ahead for brewers: Balancing creativity with the need for the beer drinking public to be secure about what they’re drinking.

“We’ll be brewing golden suds.”

Another false dichotomy. If it isn’t a complex, outside of the box beer like stouts or fruit or pumpkin beer, the only opposite to that is “golden suds.” I think Stone Brewing company has done a nice job of chipping away at this with their “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for Wussies” campaign, but for the non-craft drinker, this can be problematic. The yellow stuff is what they’re used to. Scare them away with something non yellow and you might never get them back.

The challenge ahead for brewers: Getting people out of only gravitating towards pee-colored beer.

“The people who drink our beer…”

Contrasting the faux gastropub of the earlier bar scene, we’re now presented with a night-time scene at a busy bar filled with attractive, thirsty guys. A woman servers up Budweisers in the bottle, and it looks like a good time is going to be had by all. Here’s where you can start noticing the fact that only men are drinking in this scenario. What are the women doing? Serving beer.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.00.46 AM

This scene is reinforcing the heterosexual, normative image of a guy’s night out, clearly reinforcing that way of life. No time to question any of what the audience of this ad already knows to be true. Men/guys drink beer for fun, and attractive women bring the beer to them, making the evening even more fun. No one is stopping to look at their beer, they’re ordering them by the handful and drinking them right up. This is the scene that Budweiser wants you to think is the only normal way to hang out with friends. And think about it – ordering trays full of beer is a great way to feel secure in your life and for a bar to sell lots of Budweiser.

The challenge ahead for brewers: Can you ever make people feel this normal and stereotypically comfortable drinking your beer?

“… are people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way.”

Notice that we’re again laying out the perfect audience? One that appreciates the hard work that goes into making a beer. But beer “brewed the hard way” is as meaningless to most consumers as the Beechwood aging is. But what this ad has done is planted the idea that somehow it is harder (and manlier) to make Budweiser as awesome as it is. And you – the consumer – are the type of red-blooded American who appreciates the hard work it took to create that beer.

The challenge ahead for brewers: People thinking that you’re somehow brewing the “easy” way. (I know, I can hear you laughing, and crying, from here).

This is the famous Budweiser beer. This Bud’s for you.

And, rounding towards the finish we had to splash in the feeling of comfort, of recognition. The font of this ad is different than other Budweiser ads. The tone is different. So the ad now needs to reassure you that yes, this is still the Budweiser you know and love. They even kept (or revived?) the “This Bud’s for you” tagline. So what’s happened here is that the ad has gone back to the beginning, touting its steadfast-ness and it’s ability to stand the test of time.

The challenge to brewers: How will your customers know that they are always getting the same quality from your brand, again and again? 

More thoughts…

Some of you might be thinking, “Well, so what?”

What I hope I’ve illustrated is that this ad has fundamentally challenged what potential craft beer consumers see as weaknesses: things are hard to understand, they’re too complex, too trendy, too unknown. This sentiment will now be reverberated throughout the macro beer drinkers and even the ones that have just tried craft. It might make a consumer just a little hesitant to order a fruit beer. A little shy of going to a trendy gastropub. And every time that happens, AB-InBev benefits, and non-macro beer suffers. I hope we can use this ad as a dialogue, as a starting point, and focus our responses towards making our own industry stronger.

 
Print This Post Print This Post

Previous

2015: The Year of the Craft Beer Growth Spurt

Next

Those Who Can, Can

129 Comments

  1. J. B.

    First off, as a marketing major I love the way this writer broke down the elements of the commercial so much.

    But the whole dynamic is pointless.

    When I have money I drink local high-ABV hoppy beers that are rich like wine, which I love.

    When I don’t have money or I’m going to a BBQ, I pick up cheap high ABV ice beers by inbev.

    The concepts are not mutually exclusive and the manufactures know it.

    The latter is the more usual case.

  2. Thomas Bayes

    What’s even more dangerous (well, disturbing actually) is why someone feels the need to right a huge article describing why Budweiser is so dangerous. Really? I like IPA’s as well as the occasional Budweiser, both have their place.

  3. Gary Smithets

    As much as I once loved beer I also love TV and some commercials. That was an excellent ad, as ads go. Beer drinking has been 90 % perception forever. There were tons of beer drinkers in High School, everyone who was anyone drank Schlitz.
    While not necessarily rooting for a particular boxer, you still can appreciate and marvel at a beautiful punch. That ad rocks, but struck me as off the mark. After watching it 2 times i feel the ad is deeply flawed when they go on to say our beer is made for people who like to drink beer. People who truly like beer are going to be the first to try other brews. Now when theyre in a crowd there all gonna have a tendency for herd mentality and conform.
    Thats the brilliance of Busweisers powerful horses and big stainless steel vats. The true beer liker when not in herd mode loves to have variety available. Budweiser wants those heteros who are in herd mode all validating their coolness by drinking Busweiser, not Miller or Coors. Just imagine a world where for some reason Budweiser was the only beer there was, how long before the word Budweiser would be used in an unflattering way to describe an abject alcoholic or someone acting beligerantly.
    Why, your nothing but a filthy budweiser.

  4. Fish

    It seems like a large amount of craft beer drinkers have also drank piss water or goat urine, comparing it to budweiser. I guess the desire to drink piss water would explain their choice in beers.

  5. S P

    Worse than the hipster micro-snobs are the tools that pay $5.00 for a PBR at a restaurant because they’re too stupid or ignorant to know the history of the swill and that they could have bought a 12-pack of the stuff for about $1 more at the local convenience store. But hey – – whatever makes you look cool…..

  6. TR

    Yup, hipster gastropub, man bun wearing yuppies are snotty about their beer, I know quite a few. Some even take pictures of their newfound brews to post for bragging rights. Well done Budweiser.

  7. Timothy Gallagher

    Insightful and well written.

  8. Brian

    I think Budweiser made a valid point with this add. Hell, even this review is fussy and whiny.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy micro breweries being around and don’t like large companies using stiff arm tactics to forcefully decrease the amount of beers I can have fun trying.
    But Budweiser IS an ICON. If I don’t feel like fussing or worrying over if I will like this beer or that beer or if what I’m buying for the 40 person gathering will be liked by most there, I grab a bunch of BUDWEISER. I know a Budweiser will taste like a Budweiser and so does everyone else that grabs it from the cooler at the fish fry.

    And hipsters ARE snotty with their beer…..

  9. Mike D.

    I liked this ad, I enjoy all beers, yes even a bud every now and again. I challenge anyone to drink an ice cold can of bud after 8 hours of yard work and tell me it’s not delicious.

    I like some craft beers, most just make a run of the mill home-brew, load it with hops and expect people to gush over it. But the entire way new beer drinkers dissect beer and whiskey now IS annoying, Budweiser played to this masterfully with this ad IMO.

  10. Big Bob

    Great dissection of the ad. Funny though because Budweiser trying to convince people their beer is great is like watching McDonald’s try to convince people a McRib is better than a $25 steak. Who do they think they’re fooling?

  11. Kevin Anderson

    Protein folding is difficult to understand and complex, drinking beer is not.

  12. VanishingMediator

    It’s funny to see you dissect the commercial, but I don’t think you are telling anyone what they don’t already know. I don’t know anyone who didn’t scoff at that commercial in this, the information age. We already know all of advertiser’s tricks, and look at ads with an attitude of “What lie are you going to tell us today?” Everyone knows the only reason anyone ever drank bud was because high abv beers used to be illegal. Not to mention right before this, these companies started releasing higher abv beers like bud crown. The only image that comes to mind when I think of budweiser is a balding guy over the hill with a giant gut trying to get an actual buzz of of piss in a bottle.

  13. Sam

    Those weren’t exaggerated representations of hipsters, they were typical representations. I live in Brooklyn NY so that makes me an expert. There’s also plenty of handle bar mustaches to go around in any number of micro commercials and print ads that I’ve seen. There are legitimate micro beer fanatics with a nose for subtlety I’m sure, but the majority of band wagon douchie, bourgeois, late-to-the-game hipster poseurs that this ad is calling out, have given the micro team a bad rap. They’re way more into themselves and how many likes a photo of their beer gets, than the actual taste of your Unicorn Ale.

    Speaking of calling out, I like the attention paid to the attractive waitress serving male patrons as potentially sexist, coming from the self titled beer babe.

    I’m only here because I just saw the ad, and didn’t get the macro angle. That’s how relevant whatever this big brewer vs. small brewer thing is to me.

    Don’t drink and drive, and don’t pee around my garbage cans.

  14. Steve

    @ “Fred”

    Ha! Who is insecure here? I think it’s the company losing market share that spent millions of dollars airing an ad which was a giant middle finger to the people costing them more money every single day.

    “Get over yourselves”? Classic bully’s retreat. Your company got called out on its BS, and now you’re trying to pretend it was just a joke.

  15. Brian

    Nice try Budweiser. But I’m a Schlitz man. I don’t hug trees, and I certainly don’t want to drink them. Weirdos.

  16. Chris

    Honestly it’s just beer. Drink what you like.

    I like the king of beers
    I like the pure Rocky Mountain water banquet beer
    I like drinking the high life
    I like the blue ribbon of beers
    ….

    I also like my dark brewed on site porters
    I like my pumpkin peach ale
    I like my super hoppy pine needle tasting beers.

    I don’t fuss over my beer. If I like it I’ll have some more if I don’t like it I’ll try something else.

    At the end of the day, it’s a commercial. I will drink what is available or what sounds good.

  17. I just wanted to let you know that I recently wrote a humorous post on my blog (Beer Snob Squad) about this same commercial, and I just added a link to your post because it is so good.

  18. Prowse!

    Casronm, below, I am outing you! You are a fraud! And a Youtbe creator/spammer here! This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHYGP0VClBE is a PARODY of the Bud ad shown above – it NEVER would have “aired” on The Big SUPERBOWL Game (and you know it). Stop pushing your wares.

  19. Prowse!

    First off, why the HELL is the comment box at the BOTTOM of the string? That needs to change.

    “(Anyone catch that they misspelled “steak tartare?”).” Only a true hipster would notice or care about that.

    This is/was exactly the type of add that EVERYONE watching the SuperBowl (and we are violating copyright by not saying The Big Game – which itself hasnt been copyrighted yet.) “tunes out”, or “doesnt care about” or “ignores” or “leaves to go pee yellow colored pee”. Too much, TLDR, thought into this – but, I agree with all that you say!

  20. Jody Schmidt

    There is that issue brought up here or at least hinted at by a few commenters and in the article itself:

    Budweiser is a weak, watery, flavorless wussy drink marketed toward strong manly types

    Craft beers are typically robust, flavorful, rich, hoppy potions marketed toward metrosexuals and hipsters.

    Overcompensation on both sides, anyone??

  21. Rob

    I haven’t read all the comments but I am a bit surprised by some of those detracting from your interpretation. I think there is a strong case of normalcy bias and people either do not have a strong grasp of history and the nature of things, or are in complete denial. Plain and simple, things change. People and paradigms change. The signs of beer consumption trends changing are so obvious they are a like a kick to the private parts. As some have posted, the fact that they made this ad is clear evidence of that. They just showed evidence of their fear of the craft brewing movement. I firmly believe that this only backfires on them. Look, it’s not the 80’s or 90’s anymore. People SEEK information, knowledge, choices. I guess I should say more and more people do. In the end this ad won’t be that powerful for either the micros or the macros, but I think it give more firepower to the micros.

    Another way of thinking about this, is a college grad working in a major metro area who hasn’t yet branched out to craft beer, but keeps seeing more and more of them pop up and hearing about friends doing a brewery tour or beer food pairing. Then they see this ad and think, do I want to be that guy? And by “that guy” I mean the guy who doesn’t care how what he puts in his body tastes.

    And lastly, they totally underestimate the female demographic and THAT could come back to haunt them.

  22. Jim Klimek

    I am a philosophy major securities lawyer. And I LOVE that commercial. When I sit down to watch a game, do I want an unsolicited lecture on hops (it’s always hops) from a kid who is trying to decide if it’s time to shave for the second time? Who thinks I haven’t had a beer before? Who has never heard of the German Purity Law? Who has never had a Heineken, much less a Glenfiddich neat? Who is trying so hard to impress people that he has no idea that the emperor has no clothes: most of that craft beer isn’t any good. I know Bud does not taste like Guineas, Harp or St. Pauli Girl. I know it also does not taste like Pumpkin Peach Ale. And I have tried the pumpkin peach ales. They’re not good. They are the Hush Puppies of beer.

    • Mira Caselle

      Glenfiddich is a rather harsh sipping whiskey for most new palates. Also, drinking single malt neat is how one misses most of the flavor accents. One good ball of whiskey ice’ll do.

      But hey, I’m also the sort that prefers things like a Sam Addams Tetravis or a St. Peter’s Cream Stout to that hilarious yellow water we’ll politely call Budweiser.

      This Bud’s for you, if you’re the sort that likes your whiskey out of plastic bottles and think ketchup is just as good as spaghetti sauce.

      If you think Heineken’s much better than Budweiser, nope – I do not think you’ve ever had a good beer. In fact, lumping Glenfiddich neat into the matter only makes me giggle at you.

      Glenlivet’s a much better sipping whiskey for a mainstream starting point. Take it with a piece of whiskey ice. You’ll taste more of it if you do. That whole ‘neat is manly’ thing is bollocks.

      • Brian

        Mira, I wouldn’t call Glenfiddich harsh, just utterly mediocre and uninteresting.

        There is debate on adding some water to a single malt. Many do benefit from it and other flavors can be explored.

        There is no debate however that adding ice ABSOLUTELY reduces and hides flavor due both to the temperature change and the more significant dilution caused by an entire chunk of ice. How immensely clueless of you to suggest the opposite.

        Go ahead and drink your single malt with ice if that’s how you like it, but don’t pretend you’re helping the flavors. You’re ruining them. Not only that, you’re misinforming others and encourage them to go for an overly cold, diluted low-flavor product.

        Much like Budweiser come to think of it.

    • Brian

      Look everybody! I’m a philosophy major lawyer and I love telling people how ignorant they are. The more I can boost my pseudo-intellectualism the better I feel about my sad life.

  23. Sean in Colorado

    Excellent analysis of the ad. It is a well produced ad but ultimately fails. It turns off all craft drinkers in the first place, but they were never the real target. The real targets of this ad are young men in their 20’s and 30’s who haven’t settled into their beer drinking habits, the market share that continues to slip away.

    I am part of that demographic. After AB was sold off to foreign investors and began to fight microbrewing, I drank the major brands less and less. After moving to Colorado, a microbrew mecca and trying more beers than I ever knew existed, I was sold. I occasionally drink Budweiser and Coors, but I won’t be buying Buds anymore. This commercial makes fun of small, American business and their patrons as if they were all male beer snobs without girlfriends. This is far from the truth, considering the vast majority of craft drinkers I know are the most ardent beer lovers out there and come from all walks of life. Most just want to show the older generations that they have a choice to have beers of all qualities and flavors. I was converted by friends and I’ve converted many more friends to the idea that they don’t have to drink mediocre rice beer all of the time.

    I’ll stick with my local, American-Made and owned, tasty brews of all flavors. Hats off to my new suppliers for years to come. Employee-owned New Belgium and my 2 local breweries that are making a killing in a town a small as 5,000 people. Beer is much better when it is made by your neighbors and gets invested right back into your community.

  24. John Cressy

    A-B used to be about St. Louis beer VS Milwaukee. Then A-B against all beer companies. In the 1990’s the amount of mergers in the “Macro” beer industry were devestating to A-B competition. There are only two “Macros” left A-B and Miller-Coors. Before the 1990’s there were about 10 big guys and 70 regional small guys with some of those being start up micro-brews. A-B is trying to put a name on a target. It was easier for them when it only had a few targets, now it’s over 3,000 and growing everyday. In the 1970-1990’s time period A-B grew from a 20 million barrel company to over 100 million barrels (US Sales). They don’t give up easy.

  25. Fred

    Full disclosure, my wife is a QC analyst at a Budweiser brewery. We are foodies. We enjoy fussing over interesting beverages of all kinds. We buy art, live on a real farm, enjoy obscure literary works, go on non-traditional family vacations, etc. etc. but here’s the thing: Budweiser has its place in this world and its a very good place.

    I really get disgusted reading comments that make it sound like bud is the anti Christ. Bud is , in fact, extremely difficult to make consistently in the quantities they make it. Bud is, in fact, union made in America by smart people who bust their asses every day to make sure it’s made to the most rigid specs in the industry. Bud is, in fact, the best possible choice of beverage for many occasions, like when you’re actually thirsty after having done actual hard work, or when paired with a burger or fried chicken. Or, as the ad does a fine job of pointing out, you don’t really care what you’re drinking, you just want to get a buzz on.

    Stop being so damn insecure about your choice of beverage. It’s all good. It might surprise you to learn that the employees, from the forklift operators to the brewmasters are excited about making the craft beers bud has been buying up. Why not take a great recipe, ramp it up, and make it far more consistently than any other brewer could ever make it?

    Bottom line is that it’s a great ad for a great american company. Get over yourselves.

    • Tron Bombadil

      I’ve been working in the craft brew industry in Portland, Oregon for eight years. Thank you for your honest portrayal of the real situation. I love tasty beers but after a 15 hour shift I crave a crisp, mild beer. Bud fits the bill. I drink it regularly even while making complex craft beer.

      • Brian

        If your actually thirsty after hard work, try a saison or a glass of water. Just anything but that corn tasting crap passed as “beer”. You know not every craft beer is dark and complex right? Seriously how can people defend that piss….

  26. Kevin

    Thought y’all might like our take on this ad. Check out out FB post

    https://www.facebook.com/HayMerchant

    We had fun

  27. Jim K

    Stone Brewing has been saying exactly the same thing about Bud drinkers for 20 years. Printed on every bottle of Arrogant Bastard is “This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make things taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.”
    It’s all fabricated, and they are sucking you in, which is exactly what they want to do. It’s just an ad.

  28. On a related note:
    ONOMOLY shines a light on the NFL and mocks Bud Light with Laser Twitter
    http://lasertwitter.com/onomoly-shines-light-on-the-nfl-and-mocks-bud-light-with-laser-twitter/

  29. Gassan

    You know when AB spent this much money on a commercial aired during the super bowl they are definitely feeling the heat of the craft beer market. This is a victory for the craft beer community for sure. This add will not turn any craft beer drinker onto Budweiser. What a waste of money

  30. BeerWOBorders

    From the New York Times, May 7, 1997:
    “Big companies like Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors are trying to take advantage of this apparent backlash, broadcasting commercials that mock brew pubs and beer geeks. But perhaps more damaging to microbrewers is the growing emphasis by the larger companies to acquire the smaller manufacturers of craft beers like Celis and Red Hook, and a new campaign by Anheuser-Busch to solidify its grip on the beer-drinking market.” (“3,100 Gallons of Good Beer Down a Drain” By HELENE STAPINSKI)

    All that’s changed in 18 years is the comparative market share of Budweiser vs. craft beer so I’m not sure this ad is really that dangerous.

    Just a little bit of fairplay-turnabout from a common target of crafty drinkers’ derision. My dad will never finish a DIPA, frat boys will never keg stand a smoked porter. C’est la vie. Bud might as well pat their devoted followers on the back. Even if they’re hilariously hypocritical in doing so.

    May I dissect it a bit more?
    – I’m pretty sure the Budweiser Budvar Brewery and the many courts in which they’re fighting with InBev for the rights to their 750 year-old name would be surprised to learn “There’s Only One Budweiser.”
    – Why is that none of the Bud drinkers wear glasses in this spot? Is Bud only for jocks and not four-eyed nerd/beer geeks like me? I think the last Bud spokesman to wear eyewear was Spuds Mackenzie ‘s shades.
    – Their suds are white, the liquid is golden. (Ish.)
    – Seriously, give up the beechwood thing already. We’ve seen your wood chips and raised you cask and barrel aging. Stop advertising why your product tastes like sawdust.
    – The peach pumpkin faux was ridiculous to begin with from the makers of Cran-Brrr-Rita “The Beer Margarita with a Twist”, Twisted Pretzel Wheat, Spiced Banana Wheat and the not-to-be-fussed over Shock Top Ghost Pepper Wheat Witbier, an unfiltered wheat ale brewed with blue agave, citrus peel, and ghost peppers.
    – I’m sure InBev and their craft subsidiaries will get along just grand. Dove used to run ads decrying the objectification of women while their corporate partner Axe ran ads objectifying women. Sell both the virus and the anti-dote.
    – I’ll still take this ad over the dumb puppy commercials anytime. Seriously, can someone tell me what in the —- a dog is supposed to make me feel about beer?

    Sorry, was that ad not to be fussed over?

  31. Pip

    My favorite part is where they show a single hop, and then cut to a tank the size of a condo. That seems to be a pretty accurate ratio of hops to liquid for them.

  32. Two Replies

    Then there’s their claim that their beer isn’t to be fussed over…. yet to maintain their trademark color flavor and style (that allows their non-thinking suds-guzzling fans to pour it down their gullet so freely), they THEMSELVES need to fuss over the beer, barley/grains, hops, water, filtration, yeast strains, temperature, fermentation, and time.
    If THEY THEMSELVES didn’t fuss over the process (dehumanizing most of it through automation) then they wouldn’t have the quality control that they have allowing them to make the arrogant “It’s not brewed to be fussed over” claim.

    They FUSS over it themselves, so they can look down upon others who fuss over beer??
    Pure elitist hypocrisy there.

  33. Two Replies

    The biggest pet peeve of mine with the commercial was the hypocritical nature you pointed out with your update.
    THEY PURCHASED Seattle’s ELYSIAN, which MADE a PUMPKIN_PEACH beer.

    Talk about self-righteously and hypocritically hedging your bet!

  34. BrianAlt

    Several people are sharing your post, including my local craft beer bar (that hasn’t carried Budweiser since 1977, by the way!). Congrats on all the attention your getting. I’m surprised how mich of it is negative. Very well written article. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  35. Tom Cramer

    Thank you for that well written piece.

  36. And you – the consumer – are the type of blue-blooded American who appreciates the hard work it took to create that beer.

    One correction: “blue-blooded” means aristocratic, or of a high-born family. I assume you meant “red-blooded”.

  37. Matt

    Here is a better commercial, from our friends at Ninkasi Brewing Company :

    http://youtu.be/ZEKqLxtjwDQ

  38. tim

    Blue-blooded refers to aristocratic, noble or patrician qualities
    Maybe you meant blue-collar or red-blooded?

  39. Brian

    A Facebook friend said it perfectly:

    Budweiser: the Sarah Palin of beers.

  40. Charles

    Piffle. The ad won’t change a single person’s opinion. Beer drinkers are famously loyal to their brands. People who are receptive to this message already think this way, and people who have a more subtle taste in beer aren’t about to change because Bud told them to. Get over yourself.

    • I think that macro beer drinkers are famously loyal to their brands. Most of the craft drinkers I know won’t even have more than 1 of the same beer in a row in a sitting. I wasn’t saying that craft drinkers are going to change over to Bud for it, but would rather be more hesitant to leave Bud for unknown and (fussy, complex, whatever) brands. It’s about the drinkers who might have wanted to expand their choices, and now may not.

  41. Dennis

    What about the end when they have are unloading a truckload of beer for only a few people. Bing drinking here we come!

  42. Nick

    As a family tradition all the males in my family go out for breakfast Super Sunday and then promptly knock the door down at the local bar. We have every male demo represented. As you can probably guess the older of the group happily sipped on their coors/labbatts of choice while the younger ones tried out 3 or 4 different beers from the craft shelf. I myself being one of the younger was criticized every time I got a cranberry ale, or a hoppin helles for ordering something different or taking more than 5 minutes to drink a beer. Yet I remained silent as they finished their flavored water in a few sips and bought another. What kills me is regardless of the type of beer I was currently enjoying the older people in the group said “I cant drink those IPA’s”, its all the same to them every beer that is not a macro is an IPA… This ad was for “them” the uniformed, this is what I grew up on (because there were no other choices) “them” the generation of people that google facebook.com instead of typing that into the url “them” …. Anyways my cousin and I had a good laugh at “them” as we poured from our growlers at home in front of the big screen…AB-Inbev knows its only a matter of time before “them” becomes the minority consumer and this ad was only proof

  43. Patrick Sullivan

    I think you missed the very important thing in your analysis of the ad. That being that an ad like this even exists. Budweiser doesn’t pay top dollar advertising during the Super Bowl if they don’t view the craft brew industry as a threat to their bottom line…

  44. Basil

    Did you really think this type of ad would never happen? You can’t rattle a lion’s cage and not expect retaliation. The craft beer movement has brought many changes to the way we perceive beer. It has given it more relevance in the alcoholic beverage market around the world. There are tastings, flights, pairings, all the things usually associated with other beverages. But with this new awareness comes responsibility. My four sons are crafties, I’m a lite beer guy. They do their best not to be beer snobs when we’re out together, but… Macro brews are good beers. Their drinkers really don’t care about the ABV, the flocculation of proteins and tannins during wort boiling, head retention, mouthfeel or if the hops are Noble or not, we just like the taste. So when you crafties sit in judgement of us macrophiles for our lack of “nose”, remember, these Macros were once Micros.

  45. Nicole

    My Dad fostered an appreciation for craft beer before it was popular. While he realized his taste and appreciation for craft beer was expensive he told me the cheapest he would ever go was Coors Golden. I am a craft beer lover like my Dad but the only time I ever cheaped-out was in college when the kind of beer I regularly drank was free and in kegs which meant it was Coors or Budweiser. Now if I want a beer and the only thing available is Coors or Bud I pass on the beverage. The women I know that drink beer, drink craft beer. The craft brewers have nothing to worry about.

    While I was watching the commercial that Sunday I was actually impressed that Budweiser was going against their norm and had a modern, in your face commercial but I was internally laughing at the message knowing they were not talking to me. They were talking to the guy that is fine with consuming (mass amounts) of tasteless beer with his Little Caesars pizza.

  46. Matt

    Yet they still ignore the existence of the Czech Republic’s far tastier and far older Budweiser from Budweis. Admit defeat. Shitty Australian beer such as Tooheys and XXXX at least accept their place at the end of bar and in plastic cups at sporting events.

  47. Derek Chandler

    All the ad did for me is help me decide to finally cut off what little profit AB-Inbev makes off of me once a year when Bourbon County is released. So long, Goose Island.

  48. Mimi

    Um… do you know that people are starving? Dying of cancer? Being blown to bits? Just checking…. because you’re seriously talking about a beer ad.

  49. rj

    This was posted elsewhere, so I’m responding from there. Apologize if I don’t fit in with blog norms.

    I cannot take something titled “Why the pro-macro beer Budweiser ad is so dangerous” seriously.

    I don’t even like Bud (prefer Coors) and like trying something off the wall occasionally, but get the f*** over yourselves.

  50. Peter

    Great response from Abita.

    Historically speaking, Bud and the other major producers over the past 140 years have been at each others throats with back stabbing ads and price cutting wars. IF they would have held hands through out the decades and helped each other to grow we would have a much different beer culture today. We would not have beer as the common people and disadvantaged people’s beverage. Instead, we would have beer priced at or above wine.

    Today we have Micro Brewers acting more like adults and driving product diversity & quality skyward… together. I see the Bud ad as recognition that the collective Micro Brewers movement has been officially noticed. Bud has now publicly displayed how worried they actually are today. They are watching as their market share slowly slips away. I for one really liked that commercial. They helped ALL of us gain national notoriety and we did not spend a dime.

    I’m going out for a Pecan honey pumpkin ale…

  51. Texas Mike

    I’m using a pseudonym (Texas Mike) because I would hate for my opinions to do any harm to my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law owns and operates a North Texas brewery.

    From what I have seen from him, and other brewers is a relaxed attitude in educating their consumers and even non-beer drinkers about craft beer. They are not pretentious about anyone they come in contact with. They could be talking with a 70 year old woman, a 21 year old kid, and yes, even a 40 year old hipster that over analyzes beer. And I think that’s cool because we have too many places in society where people are judged, almost as if to say “are they one of us or something different? ” The first time I went to a brewery, I saw a well mixed crowd and I knew thay craft beer is a thing for everyone.

    To me, the best part is seeing someone’s eyes open wide when they get a taste of a craft beer and their taste buds explode! Then they talk about what they’ve been missing by thinking beer is only Bud, Miller, Coors, Guinness, etc. They realize they have been missing something special. Then they realize that specialness is readily available. That is what craft beer is for me. I don’t hate on the big breweries. But I do hate on them poking fun at the drinkers of craft beer.

    Craft beer needs to explain to their potential drinkers that Craft Beers are superior in flavor to “macro” beers. Then they need to explain it’s a tastebud thing, not a lifestyle choice. When they do that, look out

  52. Flomp

    The people who are calling you whiny or snooty are clearly people who do not really understand propaganda. The use of propaganda in this ad is expert and studied. Anyone who has even remotely studied propaganda knows its sign posts. Propaganda is by its nature a shadowy intellectual pursuit with an anti-intellectual goal; a distillation of a lot of manipulative projection down into a handful of simplistic and anticipated perceptions–which means that if people either fail or refuse to note propaganda’s complexity, or if they shame a person who does, then its plain folks “appeal to anti-intellectualism” is actually working rather nicely on them. 🙂

    It’s like the ad is made by “powerful” people who invite us “not to think too much” about the issue, and then lo and behold, some commenters accuse you of overthinking it. Mission accomplished! Derp! Funny, because I am sure they had weeks and weeks of boring marketing meetings and project teams devoted to “overthinking” this offensive ad, but you are expected to just slurp it up like their otter piss. So what you have is master manipulators devoting weeks of complex attention to a message encouraging simplicity, which sparks your complex analysis…and then you are assailed by defenders of a “simplicity” that never really existed. So who’s the real goat here?

    The ad itself is damage control, for churn/attrition. Affluent people who like stout or IPA are not going to start drinking Bud. The target audience is current macro brew drinkers (or hybrid customers, who drink both) with enough disposable income to buy craft beer but who currently do not do so with consistency. They may value taste, they may have tried “real beers” that friends had, but aren’t sure what it will say about them, and whether or not they should upgrade to more expensive beer. Bud wants to reassure them that they need not waste extra money on looking stupid.

    Ultimately AB/InBev fears that the decline in the over-regulation that used to govern beer distro in so many areas will result in way too many micros or crafts displacing their auxiliary brands. Bud itself is too iconic, and will still show up in the 7-11s and TGI Fridays of the world, but Busch Lite may get dumped to make way for a micro or craft that they do not own. And not a thing of value will be lost.

  53. Great – ahem – dissection and a TON of great comments by your readers. Touchay, I mean, Touche’! Three comments: MOST microbrews have more to fear from the segment’s fad-factor than they do from some Budweiser ad. The current proliferation, to me, will subside in time and some craft breweries will fall by the wayside. Many will remain. A winnowing might be good for the industry. Second: Taste rules every time. People (nerds, like us?) who drink craft, micro or IPAs probably have had macros and said, ‘Thanks, but no.’ Third: Budweiser (the beer, not the ads) gives me a headache.

  54. I would not concern yourself with this commercial at all. When that showed on TV, the people that have sunk low enough to drink Buttwiper probably could not read quick enough to understand the messages shown on the screen (if they could read at all) and were probably too busy “twerking” to that driving beat to even understand what was going on. I think if you interviewed 1,000 Buttwiper drinkers that may have seen the commercial, they would probably answer you, “Oh, you mean the one with the puppies?” If you replied, “No, the one with the deep meaningful message,” they would probably reply, “Huh?” I am so pleased that those lovely Clydesdale horses have got permanent employment and retirement with Buttwiper, adding flavor to their “excuse for beer” when they urinate in it. It’s a shame that a company can produce such good commercials and bad beer, all at the same time! I lived through the Campaign for Real Ale in London back in the seventies and we won then and with the amount of new microbreweries popping up every day in the States, we will survive and win again!! Please stop panicking! Good beer will reign and , yes, it will be something for us to “fuss over”.

  55. Bernie

    One thing you can’t argue with: Bud is brewed the hard way. It takes enormous expertise, expense and sheer scientific ingenuity to remove so much taste from beer. Craft brewers are just never going to be able to do it.

  56. Xtreame

    This just makes me want to keep drinking & exploring the Craft Beer market! It’s obvious, to me, that the ‘macro’ breweries are scared of the massive influx of Mico breweries & the ppl that are willing to try something new & creative!! For every person that tries a craft beer is a dollar out of their pocket! With myself having almost 700 unique craft beers under my belt in a years time and being a yearly supporter of Untappd, my lips will never touch a macro can or bottle that simply contains 99% flavored water!!

  57. Sion

    This is very much a case of reap what you sow.

    Coming from Wales, I can’t comment on the state of the ‘scene’ across the pond, however I’ll leave an anecdote to highlight the point I’m making.

    I was down in London visiting some friends, and after a nice meal, we decided to pop into a BrewDog pub.

    I walked to the bar, noting with curiosity several people around me ordering some sort of new beer from Mikkeler which had just come up from the cellar. The stuff was flying. Turns out that it was a form of Belgian Sour red with cloudberries or something similar in it.

    I ordered the round my friends asked for, among with a pint of a beer I fancied the sound of from the tap list.

    Within seconds of finishing my order, the nearest bloke sipping the minelayer stuff turned to me and asked “what are you ordering that stuff for? Buy this, it’s a lined edition release”.

    I explained to the guy, quite politely, that it didn’t sound like my kind of thing.

    The throbber at this point openly sneered at me, jibing ” drinking that stuff you ordered, I’m not surprised you don’t know a good thing.

    Now I am an enormous fan of beer, and have a fairly decent grasp of the characteristics of most of the major styles, as well as food pairings to go with. I could have explained to him that I find Belgian soures to be too sharp and aecetylitic for a kick-off beer, but frankly I was far too annoyed to do anything but clench my jaw and Terri not to call him a bellend.

    Sadly, beer snobs are absolutely dire company to have when drinking, and because they are by a country mile the most vocal and extreme in their opinions, tend to be seen as the stereotype of a craft beer fan.

    This dissection of the advert is brilliant, but is exactly what I mean with beer snobs, all outrage and doubles standards when it comes to dishing out the food bed and taking the inevitable comeback in the grid…

  58. Bob

    I live on a remote island and we only have one liquor store in town. The liquor store primarily stocks lots and lots of AB beers (which is of no interest to me), but you’re supposed to be able to special order anything that they have a SKU for. You just have to wait 2-3 weeks to get it. Sooooo, when I go in to special order a craft beer, guess what the manager tells me: “You’re just going to have to get used to what we drink out here.” Thanks buddy. AB’s not the only one with the “us and them” attitude. I think that they’ve tapped into an attitude that a lot of people already have.

  59. I think to those who think that there is fuss and over-analysis of the ad should understand that yes, we all love craft beer, and no this ad was not meant for us, but this ad was poking fun at the whole “craft beer movement”. I’d rather be passionate and educate people about craft beer and make a difference for the movement, than criticize the rest of us for trying (while youre also drinking your craft beer). How about us crafties unite instead of sit on the sidelines?

  60. mm

    Are you micro-sexual or … you know … a little bit bigger?

  61. RobRob

    You’ve hit a lot of our internal fears. I like the peace over all and I think you’ve outlined some of the challenges us craft brewers have when taking on these advertising moguls. It’s not easy. If I may, I’d like to add an alternative perspective to this.

    This a positive sign that we’ve got goliath on the defensive. Craft brewing in America is on the rise and this is a sign that it’s gotten to the point where amheiser busch can no longer ignore it and have to attack to try and desperately hold onto their near monopoly share.

    On the contrary, with this obviously desperate attempt, they’ve not only angered beer advocates, but their own fan base as well. My uncle, who’s an avid budweiser drinker (not because he likes it, though. He claims he’s “got a Hoegaarden taste with a budweiser budget) says he was offended by the add because they’re assuming he’s an idiot and won’t be drinking budweiser any time soon. I’ve seen tweets and facebook posts claiming that the add states that budweiser is proud of serving us crap beer. Not to mention it’s also aggravated its female drinkers by subtly pointing out that “women serve beer, men drink beer.”

    I expect budweiser sales to drop further and craft beer sales to rise more in 2015.

  62. dy

    Great commercial, food for thought. I am an owner of a microbrewery. And, when its 100 degrees outside and a Coors Light is handed me, I drink it with a smile. I love a great West coast IPA as much as I like a unique meal in a great NYC restaurant. But, on a road trip with few options and miles to cover, a Jimmy John’s #5 and a cherry coke is all good. There is room for craft and Macro, and fast food and fine dining. Don’t take offense craft brew community, you have just been recognized.

  63. Jeremy

    So, I dont think micro’s are too worried about this. The #pumpkinpeachale has become a laughing point. Brewers are now making one just because. This ad did nothing to people who drink micro’s and did nothing to people who drink bud. All it did was create a laughing point, and score a few people some temporary fame.

  64. Gretchen

    I write this as I sit here sipping on a glass of golden suds. They’re golden suds brewed the hard way – on my kitchen stove top into a five gallon bucket, and then lagered in my basement. It’s a spruce pilsner with spruce tips cut from my own woodlot. However, I could just as easily be sipping on a Bud Light I pulled out of my neighbor’s revamped 50’s Coke machine fridge. There’s a time and a place for every beer.

    You take issue with the commercial’s reinforcement of a hetero-normative stereotype, yet you call Stone’s use of the equally pejorative and hetero-normative term “wussies” a “nice job” – quite the double-standard. Not to mention the double-standard inherent in that altogether – it’s ok for Stone to lob one, but not AB?

    Overall, I think a lot of people are giving way too much credit to this commercial, and not nearly enough credit to the potential consumer. The times, they are a-changing. Had those Bud Light drinking neighbors over for dinner last week and they loved one of the local microbrews I had on hand, that they tried willingly.

    Let’s all just get along.

  65. Excellent analysis. This is by far one of the best pieces written about the ad that I’ve seen yet. Kudos to you!

    I’m not entirely convinced that the ad is “dangerous,” but it is a bold shot across the bow. I’m equally certain that craft brewers—an industry known for innovation, persistence, and creativity—are up to the challenges you’ve rightly posed.

    I’m most interested about the reaction from the masses. I do believe craft beer fans are right to be insulted and upset, but on the other hand this IS a bit of fair play, given that most of us have lobbed our share of insults at the macro crowd and Big Brewing. I’d encourage the community to be firm, strong, but measured in their responses: it doesn’t help us to look angry, thin-skinned, or easily rattled.

    As for the detractors, I’m most curious as to why so many of you take issue with craft beer and craft drinkers by insisting that craft beer has gone “too far.” Is it wrong for diners to savor more exquisite, epicurean meals? Is it wrong for drinkers of fine wines and spirits to be as particular or discerning? Certainly, food, wine, and spirits drinkers are divided into at least two camps when it comes to particularity; why can’t beer drinkers be divided similarly and still peacefully coexist? Craft drinkers and non-craft drinkers alike are all more than welcome, of course, to drink whatever they’d like in whatever manner they’d like. I don’t understand why that’s such a sticking point in this argument.

    While Bud’s hypocrisy is startling and unsettling, I can kinda see where they may have been going with this ad. I figure they’re already assuming that they’ve lost the craft drinkers and aren’t likely to win them back, so rather than try to earn new customers, why not try to keep your existing customers happy? And if they felt the best way to do that is to reinforce the comfortable tropes and stereotypes associated with Big Brewing, condescending though the ideas and methods may be, then so be it. It will be, as it has been for years, on the shoulders of the craft brewing community to rise up, respond, and thrive.

  66. LOL, it was a pretty funny ad. Shots have definitely been fired. For years now bashing Bud/Busch has been standard procedure, and beer-geekery has definitely been stretching its tentacles They are definitely trying to portray people who care about beer as uncool nerds, while people who don’t care about their beer are more fun and party harder.

    I’m a wanna-be beer geek who enjoys a Bud Light bottle every now and then, usually at some kind of social event. But then I like to buy the fancy stuff and bring it home and savor it in beer glasses.

    But let’s face it. Beer-geekery is pretty out of control, so I’m actually happy that it’s being called out.

  67. Dustin

    Lighten up! They just admitted you shouldn’t drink Budweiser if you value taste! I think it’s hilarious.

    They’re so desperate to rally their old social drinkers they’re willing to alienate everyone else.

    Anyone remember the Radio Shack ad from last year? A lot of good it did. Guess who’s close to filing bankruptcy now:
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102389902

  68. Meestare Mottchews

    Furrin mega corp. Buy Amurican.

  69. Dave

    Them saying their beer isn’t fussed over is a bit of a fallicy because they fuss over every batch in their labs to ensure they taste consistently the same. Every sample is smelled, looked at, tasted and compared to a standard. That seems pretty fussy to me.

  70. ThinkingandDrinking

    This commercial wasn’t about beer. This commercial was about people. It was an ad that took a jab at a stereotype. The perception is that craft beer enthusiasts overwhelmingly are 25+ y.o., educated, white males with higher levels of education, more disposable income and outspoken attitudes towards macros. Perception may not be truth but if you don’t think that makes for a very exclusive group, you’re out with the country you live in. Next time you’re at a local brewfest, take a good, long look at the crowd demographic.

    Consider this: if you like playing or wanted to learn golf but you could only afford Wal-Mart golf clubs would you accept an invite to play a few rounds at a private country club or would prefer to play a municipal course?

    I fit the demographic: I’m a 30+ y.o. white dude in an east coast city with above average education and income and I like “craft” beer styles. You know what brings me more pleasure than quaffing a delicious brew? Trolling my beer snob friends with Natty Boh because drinking beer around them feels like I’m playing golf at a country club with Wal-Mart clubs wearing an Old Navy Polo.

    That, my friends, is what this ad was about. The fact that so many butthurt commenters took to comment sections and forums to express outrage makes we wonder: who’s insecurities were really exposed?

  71. Rick

    Ah, advertising. The media message charged to attack your psyche. A message telling you what to like, how to feel, what to want, when to get it and when to use it because well, everyone knows you’re just not intelligent nor mature enough to do it yourself. Bottom line. If you’re a lower middle class individual attached to a union card laboring because cerebral just isn’t in your vocabulary. In fact, you hate to think. Budweiser is your beer. For those who decided early in life that thinking is not difficult and in fact quite exciting, enjoy the brewed treasures of others in your character who wanted someting more.

  72. Wil

    Good points, but unfortunately all futile. No craft beer drinker saw this add and said “hey I should drink Bud.” Those people who drink Bud are not really the craft beer market. So what Bud did was possibly invigorate their demographic (which is in decline, not because they are switching, but because up and coming 21 years old never try bud). This same demographic is one that is less likely to go to social media and defend them, one that is less passionate, but rather “doesn’t care about beer.” So essentially talking to an audience that wasn’t there and pissing off the one that is. I personally find it quite funny.

    I attribute this to Boone’s Farm attacking Willamette Valley or some high end winery.. senseless.

    • I think where I might disagree is “Those people who drink Bud are not really the craft beer market.” I’d say with the decline in market share, there is definitely a steady stream of folks leaving the traditional macro beer and going to something else, whether that be craft, liquor or wine. This, to me, seems like a reaction to the fact that Bud is scared of the “people who drink Bud” going over to the other side. The die hards may never go, but there’s a chunk of other-beverage-curious folks that they can’t afford to lose.

  73. My first thought was that AB InBev was trying to circle the wagons. To get the non-craft beer drinkers to rally around the brand.

    To revive the brand they have to address the perception of Budweiser as being swill. Craft beer drinkers will never start buying Bud in large numbers, but they do need to elevate the brand. If you take AB InBev’s comments at face value that is what they tried and failed miserably to do. There were attempts in the ad to create an image of quality, but Carla was right it was just corporate jingoism.

    There are advantages that macro beer has above a nano-brewery making a beer out of a closet. Macro beer has the best equipment, quality controls, and access to the best ingredients (if/when they choose to use them). That is a story that can be told and marketed without disparaging craft beer.

  74. I appreciate your in-depth analysis of the commercial. Anyone who thinks you put too much thought into your analysis doesn’t understand how much work and planning went in to every frame of the commercial. Yes, they paid $9 million to air the commercial, but they probably spent millions making the commercial as well. Somebody probably spent hours selecting the individual hop cones, wood pieces and barley kernels that were used in every shot.

    Thanks to one of the comments above, I can’t tell if AB-InBev is trying to make fun of themselves and did a horrible job of it OR if they were trying to make a serious commercial about how awesome they are and did a horrible job of it.

  75. David

    I only drink craft beer. well. every once in awhile I break into some Tecate.

    I think the ad is fucking hilarious and awesome. 75% of the people (its science) who drink craft beer are self-indulgent fuckwads. This ad is perfect for them. The craft beer scene has become a caricature of itself. They all poke fun at macros, the macro gets a shot back at them, and now everyone is whining? Sour fucking grapes.

    I tell you, I would drink any MILLER product before I’d drink Rogue. Why? Miller is UNION MADE. Printed on every can and bottle
    Rogue treats its employees like utter shit, allegedly.

    Lets stop pretending Craft Beers, Craft Brewers, and especially the “Craft Beer Media” deserve some kind of special fucking pass, or are due some obligatory notion of societal respect. because our beer is more expensive, more labor-intensive, and more flavorful. It’s just beer.

    It’s. Just. Fucking. Beer.

    • Do you see breweries making fun of macro drinkers, though? Or just the beer itself, which uses adjunct ingredients to keep it inexpensive? There’s a difference in my eyes between attacking a product and attacking the customers that purchase that product.

      • Mark

        Carla:

        I am going to cut you a little slack because you are too young to know what the American beer scene was like before craft breweries entered the picture. However, I cannot sit back and watch a group of people who clearly know very little about the history behind American standard lager, Western-style lager in particular, slam a beer style with a rich history. American standard lager and the creation of the double-mash brewing system was invented in the United States during the eighteenth by immigrant German brew masters who knew what they were doing.

        As to my credentials, I have been an all-grain amateur brewer (a.k.a. home brewer) since the early nineties. I maintain a brewing yeast culture bank and propagate every yeast culture that I use from slant, and have done so for almost entire time that I have been an amateur brewer (i.e., I plate and isolate my own brewing yeast). I am also a ranked BJCP beer judge, which means that I have demonstrated that know a little bit about beer and beer history.

        Contrary to what has been posted on this thread, American standard lager is amazingly difficult to brew. Its flavor profile is so delicate that brew house and fermentation flaws shine through like a million candlepower light. From water to malt to hops and even adjuncts, everything has to be perfect, which is why every ingredient used in the production of AB’s beers is analyzed before use. AB also ferments their beer with a starting specific gravity of 1.080, and then dilutes with water to save on fermentation vessel space (this type of brewing is known as high-gravity brewing). If no steps are taken to control ester production, a beer with an original gravity of 1.080 will contain 4 to 8 times the amount of esters that that of a beer with an original gravity of 1.040. If AB did not take steps above and way beyond merely regulating the fermentation temperature to control ester production, the resulting beer would taste very weird when diluted to packaging strength. You can bet that AB has an army of Ph.D. biochemists, microbiologists, and biochemical engineers that are some of the brightest minds in the industry. In fact, Mitch Steele, the brew master at Stone, got his start at AB.

        Additionally, adjuncts are not used to cheapen the beer. That line of thought is little more than fodder that pushed onto newbies by craft brewers in attempt to generate angst. The use of adjuncts dates back to the nineteenth century when immigrant German brew masters were attempting to find ways to produce a more stable product using domestic barley. In much the same way that Italian immigrants created Italian-American cuisine by applying Italian cooking techniques to domestic ingredients.

        The original adjunct employed by immigrant German brew masters was corn. American barley is higher in protein than continental barley. Protein makes a beer unstable. Anyone who has ordered a craft beer that was cloudy when delivered to his/her table that cleared as the beer warmed has witnessed the instability that protein brings to beer. That cloudiness is known as “chill haze,” and it is caused by protein. Corn has a lower amount of protein than malting barley and is fairly neutral in flavor. The addition of 20 to 30 percent corn to the grist lowered its protein content, resulting in a more stable beer. This style of American lager was known as East Coast-style lager because the style originated on the East Coast. East Coast-style lager was also adopted in Milwaukee and other towns in the Upper Midwest.

        Budweiser is a modern day version of the style of American lager that was formulated by immigrant German brew masters in western states. Rice was more plentiful than corn in the western states; hence, rice replaced corn as the protein level reducing adjunct, and the rest is history. Rice makes a beer even lighter tasting than corn, which many consumers preferred.

        As woman, you should be made aware that the lightening and debittering of American standard lager even further is the result of World War II. So many men were off fighting the war, that brewers had to turn to selling beer to women, which necessitated a reduction in original and final gravities as well as hopping rate. The further reduction in final gravity and IBUs over the last forty years has also been consumer driven. Americans wanted a less bitter, less filling beer.

        Anyone wanting to attack AB should focus his/her energies on AB’s business practices (which have always been quite predatory), not the products that they produce. AB could produce an IPA that rivaled anything that Stone produces, and they could do at a volume and consistency that would cause craft beer prices to plummet (see Mitch Steele’s blog entry on the subject, http://hoptripper.com/craft-beer-sales-are-at-an-all-time-high-and-why-this-could-be-scary/). Much of the groundwork on which Mitch Steele built his recipes was laid at an AB pilot plant. AB rejected those recipes because they did not have broad enough consumer appeal.

        In closing, I am amazed that most people missed what AB was attempting to with this commercial. This commercial was not a real man versus a wimpy man commercial. That may have been what it appeared to be on the surface. It was an old fashioned divide-and-conquer scheme based on social class. Craft beer drinkers are mostly educated white collar workers as is the amateur/home brewing community. AB does not want to lose its working class consumer base as well as it older customer base, many of whom are educated white collar professionals who grew up in working class homes (i.e., the social class equivalent of being bi-lingual).

        • Thanks for taking the time for such a thorough response to my article and comments. I have a question, however. Your post is the first time I’ve ever encountered the idea that women’s tastes (in the absence of their husbands at war) drove the gravity/hoppiness of beer down post WWII. Do you have any sources for that piece of information? I’d like to learn more about the role of women in beer before this current craft boom.

          Thank you,
          Carla

  76. Bob

    I agree with Michael’s first sentence above, and all of PostModern’s. Impressively thorough ad analysis here, and yet perhaps overly dramatic conclusions. By purchasing Goose Island, among others, mainstream beer has already acknowledged the need to get on board the craft revolution train. I enjoyed Bud as an unique woody-noted brew in my early pre-craft days. But as a friend of mine says, life is too short not to drink great beer. The ad reminds me of the “mainstream” media who tell their audience not to watch Fox News by claiming that they “make stuff up.” Because they know that once you venture outside the mainstream establishment and start thinking and drinking for yourself, you will never go back.

  77. Great article! I really wish that Budweiser had appealed to our intelligence instead of belittling it. IF they had mentioned that the reason they use beechwood spirals (boiled in sodium bicarbonate, which removes any flavor or color) to speed up their lagering process, they could have gone in a different direction, but sadly they did not. I did like how they referred to craft beers as “ale” and their beer as “suds”…

  78. CT Davis

    This is a pretty well informed take on this ad. It was an annoying pernicious ad that shows us all that AB hasn’t given up their long-held mean streak. I guess it’s ingrained in the corporate culture. But the main take away from this wretched commercial is that it just reeks of fear.

  79. I think the piece is an excellent analysis of a very good ad. Having said that, I own a beer store. Budweiser doesn’t sell very well. Bud Light does. And this Super Bowl weekend was great for us, but not so good for the popular beers. We filled more growlers than ever, and sold more craft than popular beer. A big change is afoot. America has grown tastebuds. The ad was well done, but purely defensive.

  80. Paul Harning

    Bud does the same thing to their beer as what micro brewers to to theirs. Beechwood aging? They shovel a few loads of beech wood sawdust into the kettle and call it beechwood aging. I call that flavoring their beer with beech wood, same thing if they used maple tree sawdust, it would be maple aged beer. It is just another flavored beer, just happens to be the first one on the block.

  81. Aside from the bullying language and false dichotomies used in ad, the worst part is the lying. I saw this ad last night and was distracted by the lack of corn extract and rice in the images of Bud’s ingredients. And “we make beer the hard way”? AB has taken the easy way out for decades by using those ingredients and not playing with the water character to make it a true lagered pilsner. Of course it doesn’t cost $10/6er, they use cheap ingredients and simple methods! The “hard way “is to truly follow traditional techniques, like storing in caverns and eschewing refrigeration. Beer is a multivariable animal, and there’s not just one kind, or “the way it should be”, even in restrictive Germany. It was said above, AB is just afraid of the profit losses from their primary product, so much so that their buying “fussy” beers to boost their lagging sales, and arguably elbow into their competitor’s market.

  82. Not you

    Really? You guys are whining about a commercial? #hipsterproblems. Boo freaking hoo… Grow up.

  83. David Livingstone

    The commercial is bland, typical TV pap. The article is grating, hypersensitive nonsense.

    I came to this article prepared to be sympathetic. I leave it wanting a Budweiser.

  84. DEBBIE S

    ooooooooooh Budweiser is scared…….and Tom the guy who doesn’t like us craft beer fans/experts/afficionados!! move over because Budweiser and all the others made this commercial because they’re getting nervous!

  85. Mathias

    What should our come back be as a community? “Our (craft) beer, think for yourself!”

  86. Mike

    Interesting that I recently read an article entitled “A Modest Proposal for the Removal of the Word “Craft” from Beer”, and now this Ad is a problem for some?

    I love me an IPA or a Wee Scottish Ale, but I too like a Bud or a Miller Lite, call me a heretic if you wish, but I for one know this – I’m a Beer Lover – Craft, Micro, Macro, or whatever the next buzzword for beer and the like may be.

  87. It’s confusing to me that they’re simultaneously bashing “fussing” over (fancy) beer AND touting their beechwood aging, smoothness and brewing the “hard way”… Those are statements that would lead the customer to think they are themselves fancy in the way they make their beer. But you’re not supposed to like fancy, fuss-worthy beer, only golden suds… so, which is it?

  88. Paul

    Peter Johnson is right. Ad is much adieu about nothing. Ultimately, it’s only going to reinforce “old farts'” ideas that crafts are for hipster youngens, and reinforce craft brew lovers that big bad Bud is out to get them. End of the day, craft keeps eating up the market shares and we all raise our glasses of our favorite beer. I think some people are just a tad bit too over sensitive, but what do I truly know?

  89. Markus

    I don’t mean to minimize what are undoubtedly malicious stereotypes but I watched that ad and laughed at them. How many craft beer aficionados are going to abandon tasty beer for crudweiser? Any that do…good riddance. I’ll laugh at them too.

  90. Ben

    Tom is right in his above comment. What Budweiser did was throw a straight right into the nose of beer snobbery. I love craft beer, visiting small breweries, and trying the local brew when I travel, but this ad takes aim at two major problems that plague the business.

    First, many craft beer enthusiasts seem to forget that the point of beer is drinking it. For too many of them, beer is a status symbol and what beer you like reflects on the rest of your life. Craft beer fans should encourage their friends to try brews that are good, but they shouldn’t look down their noses at people for drinking what they like.

    Second, just because a beer is made in small batches or has a bunch of hops in it, doesn’t mean its good. While many people don’t know what ‘beechwood aged’ means, there are plenty of craft beer snobs spouting off about some aspect or another of a microbrew and have just as little idea of what it means. The difference is that Budweiser is not trying to shame people out of drinking their beer for not knowing.

    Your challenges for brewers are the right ones, except for the fussiness and dissecting. To back up what PostModern Brewers said, the challenge for brewers is to get away from trying to be like vintners and instead say: “here’s a different kind of beer. Try it, you might like it.”

  91. Eric

    Not everyone cares about beer. Take it from me I’ve bartended for years. Some people literally just order a beer to have something to take the edge off and get social. Not interested in taste, hops, barley, or anything remotely of the subject. Just want a quick drink to say hello to old friends and be social. Also, unless you’re drinking micro brews all the time, it’s almost impossible to really know about them….so by that logic you cannot expect every customer to be familiar with micro brew products…hence the budweiser add saying “if you just wanna grab a quick drink without thinking, our beer is there and it’ll get you drunk.” They also seem to be advertising to the male demographic so that explains the lack of females. Women drink beer all the time and watch football but budweiser obviously knows their demographic is made up mostly of men. Think about a hair shampoo commercial. It’s almost always gorgeous women with long flowing hair. Would you then accuse the shampoo commercial for being sexist because there is no man washing his hair? They obviously know that more women are concerned with their hair then men. That’s called a demographic. For the record, I think bud is gross but I don’t feel even the slightest bit offended by this bud add. I actually laughed. They have their right to freedom of speech as well.

  92. Doug Lyons

    I happily describe myself as a beer snob. That being said I can laugh at myself. While I am no hipster I certainly saw a little bit of myself in the ad.

    Clearly the Budweiser’s of the world are feeling the pressure of the craft beer movement and their declaration of pride in mediocrity speaks more about them then it does about those of us that prefer a quality beer. Budweiser is little more than the McDonalds of beer – if that is the ground they wish to protect and claim as their own … far be it from me to stop them.

    All they have accomplished with that ad is to try and prevent the market share they have from migrating away from the mediocre product they have to offer. It looks pretty desperate to me.

  93. Buffalo Bill

    First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
    -Ghandi

  94. BillyBob

    I drink Budweiser and Miller. I’m used to people asking me how I drink that “piss”. There are two answers: 1) That its pretty good, and 2) I’d rather drink “swill” than be the type of person who gets worked up over something as silly as the nozzle touching the beer during the pour. You’ve drawn your own caricature! For years you’ve perpetuated the notion that craft beer drinkers are more sophisticated, smarter, and somehow enlightened. Now your voice is finally loud enough for a response, and you’re upset because its basically one that agrees with you.

  95. MelloYello

    The goal of the Budweiser ad was to distinguish their flagship product from craft beers and try to solidify their position with the core customer base. It is clearly a response to the growing popularity of craft beer and, to me, it seems like a reasonable marketing tactic.

    Clearly craft beer fans are a passionate group, but the response from the craft beer community (like this blog post) almost makes A-B’s point for them. People are taking this commercial way too seriously. Any craft beer drinker that is truly offended or threatened by the gentle mocking of craft beer culture in this commercial needs to lighten up.

    Why? Because this is only the beginning. Craft beer is big business now. What I take away from this commercial more than anything else, is that craft beer has replaced Miller-Coors and other macro breweries as A-B’s top rival in the market. So even as A-B buy up craft breweries to get a foothold in that market, they will continue to push their flagship product to their core customer base, and one tactic is to show how it is different from the competitors.

  96. John

    Thing is, there is more than one Budweiser otherwise AB/InBev would not be embroiled in a trademark fight in the EU with a Czech brewer that is actually in Budweis which actually makes their beer, by default, Budweiser (means “from Budweis”). They market their beer as Budweiser as well and since the brewer predates AB by like 600 years, I think they have the stronger claim to it. But that doesn’t seem to stop the army of lawyers from just making a bad day out of it for everyone involved.

  97. Cory Chandler

    Before the Super Bowl, I remember seeing that AB was going to try to stem a loss of young-adult customers, many of whom have never tried a Bid, by trying a bolder tactic. I figured they were going to try to endear themselves to the hipsters. This is a more interesting approach, though it does seem more like entrenching it’s position than expanding.

  98. Franzsigel

    It’s a great ad – at least Budweiser is much better at advertising than brewing. And I’m sure there are some kids that might be convinced that craft beer is uncool if the macros continue with ads like this.

    But a bit surprised that so many in the craft beer crowd seems to take this personal. So maybe it hits us to close for comfort? We’ve been taking shots against the macro breweries for decades, so there really no need to complain when the empires try to strike back…

    It’s not positive if craft beer is considered the beer of hipsters and beer snobs. But we should probably fear the hipster and beer snobs more than the Budweiser marketers.

    So if the craft beer community should respond to an ad like this, our message should probably be “You don’t have to be a beer snob to drink great beer” or “We have Peach Pumpkin Beer AND easy drinking lagers that doesn’t taste like shit”.

    This is why the craft beer community needs beers like Sam Adams Boston Lager and similar brews. And why the condescending beer snobs should be kept as quiet as possible…

  99. Gerzan

    I like this article. Others who have commented playing down your analysis missed the point. This ad wasnt for the people who already drink good craft beer. AB isn’t trying to win us back. It’s trying to keep its current customers and make new ones from the young men.
    All us craft beer drinking people could share this info with others do they wont be manipulated into drinking the same old piss beer.

  100. I’m a white guy, with a beard and glasses, who lives in a city, occasionally visits a gastropub, and sniffs my craft beer. So I guess this ad was a shot at me. The subtext I got was “Real America” drinks Bud, the liberal elite males (no women drink craft beer it seems) fuss over their craft beer. Good piece.

  101. Patrick Boegel

    I think we are all in sort of a much ado about nothing here. All Budweiser did was embrace the image of what the majority of the craft/mirco beer enthusiast movement has been saying about them or their counterparts for nearly three decades.

    They went all in on Bromancing the Stone. Not a big deal.

    If it is the cartoonish characters drawn up for juxtaposition that is the problem. Well, then I’d suggest that may have hit all too close to home with some among us, because sometimes the truth, even smallish ones hurt.

    The only real problem for brewers moving forward is not how they are seen by the Bro-set, but how they survive each other. Craft or non conglomerate beer, whatever the next label for it will be, the biggest battle ground will be among themselves, not ABInbev or MillerCoors.

  102. justin

    I was going to respond, but Tom pretty much covered it for me. Take a breath Beer Babe

  103. Thank you for making what is a remarkably strong–if, at times, wrong-headed– case for just how wonderfully effective Budweiser’s “Macro Beer” SuperBowl ad really is.

    Craft beers have had more than a decade of fun hurling the nastiest lies and epithet’s at A-B, but now they’re terrified when the animal they’ve been taunting bares its teeth.

    I, for one, am delighted! This is what competition feels like. Grrrrrrrrrr!!

    More at: bit.ly/1BRtQcc

  104. While I do agree with the bulk of your points I think you conclusion is a bit broad. While this ad certainly appears to be a declaration of strength it comes from a position of great weakness. Budweiser as a brand has been in free fall for several years now with volumes declining by double digits annually. The fact that they chose this brand for the ad shows a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding.

    They aren’t trying so much to win over people to the brand they’re trying to retain whatever consumers that are still buying it. This ad was supposed to make that Bud drinker who’s starting to feel a little self conscious when he’s out at the bar feel a little bit superior to the craft drinkers all around him. You’re right, this is a jock poking fun at the geeks scenario but that jock does that because he’s insecure.

    AB can make fun of craft culture all it wants, it won’t dissuade those already in it from drinking craft nor will it keep open minded people from seeking new experiences. The guys that drink Bud drink Bud because its what they know and they fear change. The fear of looking stupid because you don’t know the how to order a beer in a bar with 30 different styles on tap is what Bud is trying to tap into. We as ambassadors of craft beer must not reinforce this fear by making fun of macro drinkers but instead educate them so they can order with confidence. That’s how we bring them into the fold.

  105. Barry McOckner

    I honestly believe this commercial is a testament to how well craft beer is doing and how far they’ve come! I view it as more flattery than dangerous to the craft industry, it proves we’ve gotten their attention!

  106. Jeff

    I mean, great analysis, but I think Budweiser just made themselves look super douchey with this one.

  107. Neukam

    You come across as a whiny micro person, and you make the rest of the people who enjoy micro or craft beers or brew their own beers seem like whiny brewers. So the big guys came across the bow. So what, instead of whining about it, go brew some craft beer that is universally better than the beer the big guys drink.

    If I’m in the shoes of the macro breweries, I would have done the same thing. The craft and microbreweries are eating into my business and I want to protect it. So I would have came out with a similar commercial. As a homebrewer and a microbeer enthusiast, I laughed at the commercial because I realize that the macrobreweries are genuinely concerned. And if the macro breweries are concerned enough about the little guy, that they spend money in a Super Bowl commercial to put micro or craft beers down, then the micro/craft industry is winning.

  108. Tom

    Dangerous??? Anti??? Holy smokes, lady … overreact much? The so-called “craft beer” snobs have been lambasting large brewers for a long time now. A/B finally struck back with a playful joist back in “your” direction and how is it treated? As a “threat!”

    They did not pose any threat, they simply pointed out the painfully obvious, which is this: WAYYYYY too many of “you” are insanely and unbearably snooty, arrogant and downright fussy. Far too many of you react to your sudden awakening to a whole new world of brew by getting sucked into the pathetic trap of believing they have magically been turned into connoisseurs and critics. Especially critical of the so-called “piss water” so many excitedly choose to leave behind. Guess what, kiddies? The vast majority of Budweiser’s fans cannot afford a $10 six pack of beer, nor would most of them care to spend such an obscene amount on something that can take dozens upon dozens of failed attempts until finding something suitable to their palate’s liking.

    You kids consider as “craft” most anything that’s not mass produced. Sadly, your arrogance makes not only your macro view of life somewhat warped, it even makes you incapable of dealing with playful banter … even to the point of insisting anything said that is not to your liking is somehow an assault.

  109. This is the best dissection of an ad I’ve ever read. She is spot on and I look forward to the craft beer industry’s approach to the things she has outlined.

  110. Peter Johnson

    Interesting analysis, but I think it’s much ado about nothing. I love beer, I haven’t had a Budweiser over a decade because it tastes like goat urine, and this ad did nothing to change my mind. I imagine that most people who like good beer had the same non-reaction.

    • To be fair, I don’t think the ad was targeted towards you, but towards the growing number of people that were loyal Bud drinkers and are leaving the brand for other things (whether that be craft beer, liquor, malt beverages, or wine). It’s about making the sheep that are still in the flock more scared to leave the herd, not about calling back the ones who have already escaped.

  111. Well said, Carla. There really isn’t much I or anyone can add to that. Well, two points of contention:
    1. I don’t find the ad to be “dangerous,” in fact I don’t find speech in general to be dangerous – it’s actions that are dangerous. ABInBev’s buying up of craft breweries is “dangerous” compared to a Super Bowl ad.
    2. Beer geeks et al need to calm down. This wasn’t a form of bullying or drawing a line in the sand or whatever you want to view it as. I view it the opposite way: This was Budweiser openly admitting that their product is bland, boring, unoriginal and NOT open to change. It’s an admission that their product is INDEED intended for the lowest common denominator and if you drink it you’re just an idiot with no taste who’s easily manipulated by our marketing. Thanks for admitting what everyone knows, Bud!

    I eagerly await the legion of spoofs and parodies that will no doubt ensue as a direct response to this commercial.

  112. Adam Myszewski

    I bet the creative minds behind this ad all drank somethig other than Bud at their SB parties yesterday.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén