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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bud Finds Its Voice (follow-up)

Back in February, AB InBev created an ad for the Super Bowl that mocked craft beer. It created an instant and sustained backlash among the craft types. I blogged about it at the time, taking the view that it was a good move for Bud. This remains a minority view, but Fortune magazine recently followed up on the story and more or less takes my view on things. They point out that, far from backing down, Bud has continued the mockery.
[I]t’d be a mistake to think the company is making these ads recklessly. Every time the craft beer world gets worked into a lather over one of these spots, it helps spread the Budweiser name. The fact that you can get a reaction today at the mere mention of that Super Bowl ad, which (with its lack of humor or cute animals) would likely have been long forgotten by this point, is actually pretty astonishing.

Will the ads convert craft drinkers over to Bud? Of course not. But they could nudge Bud drinkers who were starting to edge toward craft back to macro beers – especially if the reaction of craft drinkers creates an aura of beer snobbery. More importantly, it could keep them away from switching their allegiance to MillerCoors, which, as Fortune recently reported, sold 43 million more cans of Miller Lite in the second half of 2014 than it did in the same period of 2013.)
Fortune concludes by noting that the long-term trends are terrible for Bud, and I agree. They can try to lower casualties, but winning the war is going to be a much tougher challenge. Still, there's no reason to think (yet) that the campaign has been ill-conceived.


  1. Seems to be a clever shifting of the battleground: the macros' expertise is marketing and image and brand while the micros know flavour. Make the war about image (snobbery vs. keepin' it real) and the macros are on territory they know and can win on. For a while.

  2. I think that's what so incenses the craft brewers (for lack of a better term): the central of their self-identity is authenticity, and Bud has decided to attack them directly on that point. It seems that if smaller brewers were more comfortable in their own skin, they wouldn't regard it as such a provocation--but Bud has touched a nerve.

  3. I agree, except... I don't think it's the small brewers that are being targeted. It's their customers. Or, as Forbes said, their potential customers.