Dan Fox
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Bud’s still hammering craft beer, and doing a great job

Budweiser has got its mojo back on the marketing front, as it continues to stick it to the craft competition with provocative ads that prove it’s better than the rest, writes Dan Fox.

Two days before game day, Anheuser-Busch released its Budweiser SuperBowl ad. For anyone who thought the King of Beers would back down (to choose a term) from its assault on the craft-beer zeitgeist first shown in its big-game ad last year, well, fuggedaboudit.

As we put it in the third article posted on this site back in 2013: The #1 job of beer advertising is to make the brand more special and distinctive than the other guy’s. There is great peril in failing to do so. For years, Budweiser ignored this truth, preferring to simply entertain with talking frogs and lizards, puppies, Wassup-ing dudes, and toe-tapping songs about Americana. Rarely, if ever, did the brand tell us anything distinctive about the beer itself.

The folks in St. Louis (or New York, where the marketing is now formulated) are making up for lost time.

At least a dozen points of distinctiveness

In contrapuntal fashion, this SuperBowl ad asserts no fewer than eleven points of distinctiveness. Nearly all of them are arrows aimed at the heart of the craft-beer revolution and the fussiness (last year’s word) that has been so much a part of its rise.

​Budweiser is…

1. Not ponies… Those are for kids… Bud has horses, big-ass horses!

Budweiser

2. Not (being) a hobby… like so many iddy-bitty craft beers

3. Not (being) small… like so many craft beers

4. Not (being) sipped… like so many craft beers

5. Not (being) soft… like so many craft-aficionado hipsters

6. Not (being) imported… like Corona – not a craft, but so what? They’re on a roll.

7. Not (being served in) a fruit cup… like Blue Moon, sort of a craft (The lemon-launch scene may be the most memorable in the ad, a perfect “Here’s what we think of fussiness” moment.)

8. Not following (the pack)… that would be the craft-pack

9. Not (being) for everyone… your hipster friends – if you have any –may mock you, but so what?

10. Not backing down… from hipsters, and the whiners from last year who said Bud was being mean

11. Since 1876… So, how long has your craft beer been around?

#12…

Not included in this litany, but depicted throughout the ad, are ingredients and process points of distinctiveness – including grains, wood chips and fire – huge brewery equipment (ever notice how often the craft breweries brag when they get a new 100-gallon stainless steel lagering tank? Bud’s are the size of battleships), and real brewery workers (not exclusive to the small brewers as many of them seem to think).

Several press accounts of this ad have suggested Budweiser is selling or embracing its size. That misses what’s really going on here. More than regaling drinkers with “macro-ness,” the 12th item on the list is a longtime and powerful beer-brand ethic: Balls. The entire tone and manner of this advertising is ballsy. Don’t mess with the King. The guy at the bar with a Bud longneck in front of him is not somebody you want to ask why he’s not drinking a porter or a stout or an IPA.

In the end, marketing’s about results

Budweiser’s marketing guy has been quoted saying this ad campaign has already produced the strongest sales results for the brand in 14 years. Selling the distinctiveness of the beer inside the bottles and cans will do that. Entertainment masquerading as advertising never does.

Sooner or later, these two fundamental insights may dawn on the Bud Light marketing guy, too.

​Or his replacement.

3 Responses to “Bud’s still hammering craft beer, and doing a great job”

  1. Allen Murphey says:

    Ah yes, Budweiser – the king of beers? King of BS for sure. The wiser beer drinker likes their taste buds, the Budweiser drinker requires neither!

  2. wabi sabi says:

    Ok, so what’s the name of the agency who made this ad?

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