Yesterday, Budweiser released the commercial below. In it, the marketing giant who also happens to sell beer successfully continues their new advertising strategy, which is seemingly an effort to troll hipsters; a strategy that they unofficially launched with their now infamous Super Bowl ad that featured bearded scenesters sniffing mutli-coloured beer flights in small glasses and positioning them as diametrically opposed to people who drink “real beer” “made the hard way.”
This new ad is aimed once again squarely at the hipster set (whom they identify without ever saying the word hipster, only by stating their setting: Brooklyn, a word that probably serves pretty handily as a short hand signifier of “all things pretentious and effeminate” to any macro-drinking, flag waving, fly-over-state-dwelling “real person”). In it, they set up a fake bar, put an actor into some hipster clothing (i.e. plaid), and have said pseudo-cool-guy serve unwitting hipsters some ice cold Budweiser.
The stage is set for an epic burn!
But does it work? I don’t think so.
Presumably the folks at the ad agency Budweiser hired to make this farce will think this campaign is a success owing to what I imagine will be high numbers in the only currency that matters these days, traffic, but it’s hard to view this ad with anything close to a critical eye and not see it as a failure, for a couple reasons.
First, there’s the obvious fact that no one know really ever compliments the beer.
This is about as good as it gets when you trick folks into drinking Bud:
“Light,” says one person in a quickly cut montage of tasting notes.
“Crisp,” offers another guy.
“Reliable,” says someone, suggesting what is arguably one the stupidest note I’ve ever heard about a beer when you consider that that guy had one sip of the beer.
“I can always count on this plastic two-ounce sample of this beer I’m not familiar with. Ol’ reliable!”
Finally, one guy says, “This would be great on like a 100 degree day!”
And even though I can picture the erections of the marketing folks who were in a van watching the live feed on the street in Brooklyn, this—the closest we really get to a compliment—is the most backhanded of positive notes and not at all complimentary to a real beer.
“Exactly!” says stubble-faced-actor-in-plaid-pretending-to-be-a-Brooklynite, clearly happy to have duped the hipster.
Exactly. Yes, you win, Bud. You tricked those plaid-wearing big-city-dwelling assholes into saying your beer would be refreshing if it was really hot.
You know what I love on a really hot day? Water right from a fucking hose. Literally anything cold tastes good on a 100 degree day. That’s pretty much the best thing anyone says about Bud in this commercial and it’s exactly what I’d say about Budweiser–even if I knew I was drinking fucking Budweiser.
And yet, you do come away from this video thinking there were vaguely positive things said about Bud, and there were, sort of, but they actually aren’t really all that positive and they were actually all said by the hairdo in a Williamsburg bartender starter costume—not the duped hipsters. He offers: “Not too heavy” and “fast finish” as tasting notes to draw in his unsuspecting longboarders–roughly the beer drinking equivalent of “Don’t worry this will be over quickly.”
Pour me some of that forgettable shit, Bruh!
Of course it’s easy to pick on any attempt to sell Bud with tasting notes because it’s Bud. It doesn’t have much taste and that is, arguably, its best quality. So let’s forget that they don’t technically trick any hipsters into liking Bud and just pretend that they did.
Let’s pretend the guy who said, “This is Budweiser?” in the commercial immediately ordered and paid for a pint, happily downed it, and bought a calendar of scantily clad Bud girls for the loft where he runs his dot com start up—an enthusiastic new fan converted to loving the macro giant.
What would that have even accomplished, in terms of marketing?
Would tricking hipsters with an elaborate candid camera set up actually create new drinkers of Bud?
Probably not. Actual “hipsters” (whatever the fuck that word actually means) aren’t likely to be swayed because they watched a marketing campaign dupe some folks who have similar facial hair.
No one watches this and says, “Hey man, I live in Brooklyn and I like cool beer. If that person with black-framed glasses likes Bud, maybe I should buy a six pack next time I ride my fixie bike home from slack lining.”
Indeed, far from ensnare new consumers, this ad seems designed to appeal to people who already think craft beer drinkers are pretentious snobs who choose drinks based on image and not taste. Folks who might say, “Ha ha! Look at those silly hipsters!” In short, the only people who are likely to enjoy this advertisement are the type of people who probably already drink Budweiser.
And if not Budweiser specifically, then surely some other similar macro lager. It’s clearly not the sort of ad that would cause anyone to abandon their interest in unique, independently made craft beer. Instead it’s for someone who drinks lagers and might watch and say, “Man, Budweiser sure tricked them good! I haven’t had a Bud in a while. I’ma get one now!”
So, instead of drawing consumers away from craft beer—which this ad seems to be trying to do with its implicit dig on Brooklyn people—it’s really only likely to convince drinkers of other macro lagers into picking up a good ol’ Budweiser, which is, obviously, just a different macro lager.
Craft beer drinkers, like me, will definitely watch the ad, and so in some ways it will be considered a success (“LOOK AT THESE METRICS, BRIAN!”) but rather than be converted, most people will laugh at or recoil from the ad (or worse, take to their blogs for unnecessary, overly wordy analysis…) and thus the fastest growing segment of beer consumers in North America will only become further entrenched in our opposition to beers like Budweiser; the makers of which we see as people who continue to favour marketing over taste, and who have now inexplicably designed their marketing to condescendingly mock the very people to whom they are attempting to appeal.