In case you missed it, last night during the Super Bowl, Budweiser opted to double down on a marketing strategy that sets its sights squarely on making craft beer seem like the drink of pansies.
Last year during the Super Bowl we learned that Budweiser is “brewed the hard way,” and this year, via galloping, muscular Clydesdales and manly men doing the hard work of brewing Bud, they proudly proclaimed they were “not backing down.”
This is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that last year’s ad (which to my mind better “pansified” craft beer than this year’s) was so roundly ridiculed in the days that followed Super Bowl 49 that it’s shocking to see the tact repeated this year, albeit less effectively. It’s also amusing to note (as others have and will again) that AB-InBev attacking craft beer (again) is profoundly hypocritical given that the strategy is paired with one that has seen them buying up said pansy craft breweries in the last few years.
And many will take issue with the silliness of this ad. The guy disdainfully flicking a lemon slice off his beer is notably funny given that Budweiser also markets Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Mang-O-Rita, and Raz-Ber-Rita. The guy lifting a keg is also funny because presumably we’re meant to believe that craft beer doesn’t come in manly, heavy kegs but perhaps tea pots adorned with bird stencils. And of course there is enough trumpeting of supposedly masculine imagery to posit that perhaps the lady doth protest too much, e.g. “NOT SOFT.”
OK Bud bros, we get it. Your penis works. Why are you yelling?
Anyway, I don’t think this ad is really worth getting our collective craft-beer-drinking plaid flannel panties in a knot so I’m just not going to. Plus that’s probably what they want. I’ve intentionally not linked to either last year’s or this year’s video today so that I might avoid contributing to any web traffic that a marketing jagweed working on his personal development plan might include on a slide deck of analytics showing engagement leading to conversions and BLLLAAAARRFFF!
Oh god, sorry. I used so many marketing buzzwords that I rage-vomited blood again (And yes, I typed the sound that I made as I did so).
Instead, I’m going to offer Budweiser some free advice for next year’s Super Bowl ad.
You see, to my mind, this ad didn’t go far enough.
That is, if you want to really build upon the silly “us vs. them” mentality that both craft beer evangelicals and makers of industrial lager seem to be perpetuating these days, you really ought to go for the jugular.
Sure, this ad has rockin’ dude-bros spraying each other with Bud after a presumably epic rock concert, and it had muscly athletes toasting a victory by spraying frothy liquid on each other and exchanging manly, totally-not-gay dudebro hugs, but it’s still a little too subtle for my tastes. Why not go all in? If you’re going to be the beer of manly real men and you’re going to expose craft beer enthusiasts for the quivering, moustachioed, IPA-drinking pussies that we are, why leave anything up for interpretation?
To that end, here is a pitch for next year’s ad that will leave very little to the imagination and will most certainly cement Budweiser’s desired new image as the not-soft, made-the-hard-way, locker-room-high-fives, sittin’-on-your-truck-after-a-day-of-real-work beer for real men and definitely not bearded craft beer nerds.
You’re welcome, Bud.
The scene opens on a cool industrial space in one of those trendy liberal neighbourhoods where no one actually works for a living. A title card and V/O explains, “We turned this empty warehouse into a brewpub…”
We see montage of people working to transform the space into one with all the trappings of a cool bar: subway tile, barnboard, wifi, an air of disdain for the mainstream, etc.
V/O: “Then we invited the neighbourhood to check it out…”
We see twenty-somethings passing out flyers on the street, pretending not to care: “Come check out our new brewery. Or don’t. I don’t care.”
A time lapse shows the space filling up with people wearing skinny jeans, tank tops, and toques even though it’s hot out. Pints are being sniffed, people are buying mustache wax online with their Macbooks, etc.
V/O: “And gave them a little surprise…”
Suddenly, a large sheet that had been covering one wall falls away to reveal a large barn door. The brewpub staff runs out the front door and slams it shut behind them, locking everyone inside.
The large barn door opens and six huge Clydesdale horses are released into the brewpub, galloping over and through tables as terrified patrons scurry out of their way screaming and spilled bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout and elderflower basil IPA pools and splashes on the floor under their clacking hooves.
It is complete, violent chaos as we fade out on the tagline:
V/O: “Budweiser. Because fuck you, craft beer hipsters.”
And that’s just the beginning. I’ve also got some story boards drawn up for a spot where Kid Rock drives a US Marine Corps M1A1 tank over a pile of fixed-gear bicycles while shotgunning a can of Budweiser.
Bud execs, if you’re interested, holler at me.