During the Super Bowl, Budweiser aired an advertisement that enraged many of the craft beer community. It was an ad that many will regretfully have to discuss over and over anyone that knows they enjoy craft beer, and see posted to their feeds again and again.
In this ad Budweiser took jabs at the many stereotypes of craft beer drinkers. It implied craft beer drinkers dissect too much and drink strange styles. But it is what the ad didn’t say that makes it so powerful. This ad did three things that many brands don’t have the guts to do.
1. Took A Stand
The Budweiser brand has been losing market share to the craft beer category for several years (Budweiser is considered a macro beer for the unfamiliar). While it’s still one of the top sellers in the AB InBev portfolio, just under Bud Light, its sales have been steadily decreasing since 2003. All the while Budweiser has been toting its horses and puppies completely missing the connection with the new generation of beer drinkers. It was recently found that 44% of drinkers aged 21-27 hadn’t even tried the brand.
Not only did the brand take a stand for what it is, it took advantage of the perception of the marketplace. Budweiser isn’t trying to be something that it is not, rather it is owning what people believe it to be. It claims “macro” with a vengeance, and one could only assume with the intent to transform the term. It is making the statement that it is proud to be macro. This ad brought the brand, and all that it is at its core to the foreground, out from the shadows of dogs and stallions.
2. Drew the Line
The brand took ownership of its category, and it also defined what it was not, and who is and who is not meant to drink it. It depicts multiple scenes of bearded gentleman, that one can only assume to be hipsters, in rustic looking bars drinking “fancy” beers from tasting glasses. It poked fun at these over-dissecting gents, telling them to go “sip their pumpkin peach ale.” (Pumpkin Peach Ale now has its own Twitter account)
On the other side of the fence it defines itself as crisp and for “people who like to drink beer.” It’s a no-frills beer that’s “not to be fussed over.” Just light, crisp, smooth, drinking-beer.
3. It was honest
The ad didn’t lie. It didn’t try to present Budweiser as something it is not. It even pulled from the brand history to share that it’s the only beer aged on beechwood; “its effect on the finished product is probably different than what you’d imagine. The brewery makes use of beechwood in the form of “chips,” spiral-shaped strips of the wood cut three millimeters thick and about 18 inches long. Before their use in the brewing process, the strips are boiled in sodium bicarbonate, which removes any flavor or color they might impart to the beverage. They’re then added to the fermentation vessel, where they act as a welcome homestead upon which yeast can settle. This increases the surface area of yeast exposed to beer as it’s circulating in the fermentation tank, which can have benefits such as a decrease in fermentation time and better removal of certain yeast-derived off-flavors.” – Brian Perkins, Budweiser’s VP of Marketing.
The best part of the ad was that it worked. Craft beer communities all over the web exploded with conversation around this ad, and will surely sustain for the days to come.
My only point of contention with the ad is when it states, “brewed the hard way.” I’m not sure what Budweiser means by this. I homebrew beer, and I know a handful of craft brewers, and we can all tell you that beer, no matter how you make it, is difficult. It is difficult to get everything correct and consistent from batch to batch, In my opinion, there is no “easy” way to brew beer, no matter the scale. Other than that single point, this was one damn good piece of marketing!
Bonus: The horse will threaten you…
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