Bad Form

There are times when a shot across the bow requires a response and other times you should continue gliding through the water without even acknowledging what has happened.

I so wanted to do the latter but the more that I thought about Budweiser’s commercial during the Super Bowl, the more I needed to add my two cents to the affair that really only craft beer people seem to be up in arms about. (Check out the Best-Worst articles on the internet, hardly a mention of this commerical in a year of mediocre ones.)

First, I think the New Yorker cover that skewered the snobbery of craft beer did more without a script or music then the Bud ad could hope to accomplish, months ago. Kudos though to Bud for choosing a venerable publication to borrow ideas from.
What failed in the dimly lit Bud spot was telling. Belittling taste then tacking backwards and extolling beechwood chips. All that was your typical ad fluffery just more scattershot than usual.

But it was the words do the “hard work” which raised the most ire and which apparently doesn’t include the work of checking to see if any of their newly purchased craft breweries might be the target of their “pumpkin-peach humor”. If I was the VP of the craft division, I would be more than a little pissed that Belgium was dissing the Elysian purchase. And I certainly hope, that VP didn’t see the spot before it aired. Because he will need plausible deniability when trying to explain this to Seattle, who is already in a pissy mood from the game itself. But where they really shot themselves in the foot was future acquisitions. That target list is now a lot shorter. Good luck creating a craft portfolio when you diss your own people and purchases.
My second cent is: Who was the ad aimed at? My wife (who doesn’t drink) hit the nail on the head when she noticed that only people with knowledge of craft beer would really get it. In the end, all Bud did was rile an easily riled opponent.  There are few things in life as easy as riling the craft beer community. Maybe making toaster waffles but that’s about it. My wife’s final point was that Bud may have inadvertently confused its customers into thinking that Shock Top would be soon making a pumpkin-peach beer.

But I don’t think their customers were the target. My guess was it was a highly costly bully tactic. More befitting a schoolyard than business. And it proves, once again, that ABInBev is still pretty clueless about the craft movement. They paid a gazillion dollars to ridicule a beer drinking demographic that was already inclined against them when they should be attempting to rally the troops. Compare that to McDonald’s ad grabbing at the heartstrings and gaining goodwill by the ton with their pay with love spot and you see how misguided Budweiser’s marketing was. McDonalds is as maligned as Budweiser by a vocal minority but they found a way to attract people to visit and at the very least grudgingly accept that it was a well played stunt.

Bud can easily claim that fans of craft are wicked condescending to them and that this was comeuppance.  But I have to say that a company that has all the tools to brew better beer with better ingredients with the best QC has been condescending to customers for years by choosing the bottom line over taste every time.

They are also not good at caring for their dogs or building barns that can hold horses if their other commercial is to be believed.

P.S. If you want to vent your Bud frustration, you can head to Beer Belly for their Craft for Crap….

“We want as many people as possible to grab any variant of Budweiser that may be in their fridge, attic, car trunk and bring it to Beer Belly on Saturday from 12-4pm. We will go ahead and trade you for a craft beer for $.01. We can fuss over our beer, drink it, talk about it, whatever the hell you want.

Here are the details:

  • Saturday, 2/7 from 12-4pm
  • Bring in any Budweiser and we will exchange you a craft beer (draft only) for $.01.
  • Bring as many crap (Budweiser) beers as you want, but maximum one $.01 craft beer per person.
  • Bring your non-craft drinking friends. Show them what’s up.”