Budweiser Super Bowl Ad Shat on Everything
Well, that certainly escalated quickly. Last night at around 7pm MST, I had finally settled into my comfy couch indentation after ravaging my way through a third helping of Totino’s Pizza Rolls, pigs in a blanket, jalapeno poppers, buffalo chicken dip, Skyline Chili Dip and basically every other cream cheese-laden creation Guy Fieri could wet dream up. With an Upslope Belgian Style Pale in hand I was finally ready to enjoy my fill of puppies, a revived Cinna, Missy Elliott and dancing shark spectacular w/ guest appearances by Katy Perry’s outfits, Fast and Furious 7 previews, cutaway analysis from a smug Bob Costas, and occasional stretches of football from two of the most despised teams in the state of Colorado.
And then it happened. The Budweiser ad heard round the craft beer world. Initially, I was a bit surprised if not impressed, the whole “Proudly a Macro” mantra was actually refreshing, albeit hypocritical after their recent purchases of Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel Brewing and most recently, Elysian. Finally Budweiser was owning what was already common knowledge. It’d be similar to McDonald’s finally coming out and going the route of Taco Bell by saying “Proudly serving poor drunk college kids and idiots who still think they’ll win one million dollars from our Monopoly game, midwesterners, the south… oh, and airport goers who forgot to eat breakfast.”
Admittedly, I have generally taken a different stance towards the AB-InBev foray into craft beer. In fact on the whole, I don’t mind that they’ve been gobbling up great craft breweries, because as we’ve clearly seen with Goose Island’s barrel aging program, big beer’s backing has only helped to grow the great projects these, now craft-y breweries, have been already doing so well. Hell, the fact that we can now make it rain BCBS from the barrel aged heavens, is enough to make any beer snob bow down at the altar to big beer… or at least look the other way to the seductive gaze of a bomber of BCBS Rare or Proprietors. An industry friend of mine recently cited that up until a month ago their beer store refused to carry AB-InBev owned products. However they eventually shifted their policy because they’ve enabled the likes of Goose Island and 10 Barrel to continue making great beer and when it comes down to it, people should be able to have access to great beer.
What followed the macro comment is what really took beer fans from Sesame Street to Michael Bay levels of intensity. Now I’m not going to intelligently break down every frame of that sixty second, 9 million dollar ad because it has already done by Jim Vorel of Paste Magazine and Carla Jean Lauter, of The Beer Babe who both do a killer job and are far more analytical and likely know the industry far better than I. However I do want to channel Luther, Key & Peele’s Obama translator, to look at a few of the messages they sent.
“It’s not brewed to be fussed over”
“It’s brewed for a crisp smooth finish”
Translation: Budweiser, “It’s just beer”.
“This is the only beer Beechwood aged”
Translation: America doesn’t know anything about beer, so lets say we #BarrelAgeIt in some kind of wood and they’ll won’t know the difference. It’s like we’re putting a bird on it.
“It’s brewed for drinking, not dissecting”
Translation: Hey, beer dweebs…
“The people who drink our beer are people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way.”
Translation: Screw every brewer in America! (sure, it’s really incredibly difficult to brew their recipes to taste exactly the same with such precision, but really brewing great beer is incredibly difficult, no matter what circumstances. This is a huge slap in the face)
“Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we’ll be brewing us some golden suds.”
Translation: Hey Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel Brewing and ESPECIALLY Elysian… we’re going to welcome you to the AB-InBev family by shitting all over everything you do. Also craft beer world… come at me bro.
While the entire ad was an egregious mockery of just how out of touch Budweiser is with the current state of the beer industry (or perhaps it was a testament of just how little fucks the Budweiser marketing department has to give), the coup de gras was most certainly that final salvo of “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ales.” Clearly reeling from their recent loss of market share to craft beer, Budweiser decided to go on the defensive, only to be called out by wiser craft beer gurus like John Holl, of All About Beer magazine. Holl points out that Bud’s “clever dig” at outlandish adjunct combination beers actually slams an existing beer made by their own family of breweries, the newly acquired Elysian Brewing, one of the largest producers of pumpkin seasonal beers.
Also it should be noted that GABF’s Pumpkin Beer Category will likely experience a dramatic uptick in entries this year:
The craft beer community is tightly knit. They are quick to galvanize in support of breweries who create great beer, keep a focus on green and local movements, breweries who support great causes and non-profit organizations in need, and recognize when breweries choose collaboration over litigation. However, we’ve also seen the power of beer nerds who sense injustice when copyright disputes do turn litigious or when craft brewers slam their own.
It has been said that all press, even bad press, is good press. However, in this domain of hyper aware beer consumers, Budweiser’s Super Bowl fiasco will not end up as a positive for the company. The crime here is that of alienation, in an industry built on collaboration. And while the goal was to spark a bit of controversy, they did so at the expense of not only some own supporters but worst of all, their own family of brewers. As Sam Sly of Beer N Loathing put it:
And here I was… just enjoying my Skyline Chili dip and Katy Perry riding an awesome mecha-lion, when I suddenly woke up rage typing 900 words on Budweiser. Thanks Bud, this one’s for you.