What was the best beer ad, or ad of any type, in yesterday’s Super Bowl broadcast? Hint, it was a Bud ad, but not the one with the dogs, horses, and wolf. Instead, it was the one above. The one in which Bud took on its main competition, directly and powerfully, roughly like those on the field. It’s the first time in many years that Bud did not seem to be on the defensive. It seems clear that Bud’s plan is to defend Bud the brand such as above, and defend Bud the company by buying a bunch of esteemed craft brewers. Maybe they can have their cake and eat it too.
Before I scope out anyone else’s views, here are mine:
- The 60 second ad opens with a view of an old brewery with a big Budweiser sign and a small American flag atop it; the building is bathing in the sun and surrounded by trees and evokes old-time Americana within a couple seconds.
- Within five seconds, it says BUDWEISER, PROUDLY A MACRO BEER and shows lots of real and good looking ingredients, to go along with the pretty buildings way back at seconds 1 and 2.
- The ad takes dead aim at and skewers various hipsters such as the ones above. Hipster number 1 is perfect, with his mustachio, earnestness, believability, dancing eyebrows. The others are just as good, as they fumble and fawn over their wee glasses of beer, as much as is probably possible in the span of 2 seconds.
- The music is just right and sets a defiant tone.
- Lots of big machines, big horses and Bud’s history are packed into this ad; it yields nothing in terms of declaring the work that goes into making this beer great.
- It suggests those hipsters are phonies and don’t necessarily enjoy drinking beer as much as normal Bud consumers.
The ad is so good, and so expertly crafted that I can’t even think of any ways to try to refute or find fault with it. Now, having said that, I am eager to go to others to see what I missed in this ad that overflows with powerful imagery.
I was surprised to see Paste call it anti-craft rather than deftly pro-Bud. The article seems to say Bud spent $9 million to air it and I would not be surprised if it cost even more to produce it (or as much as an average movie of 90 times the duration). The Atlantic calls it the event’s riskiest ad and says it’s likely to appeal to those over but not under about 40. The LA Times points out that the ad touts that it’s for people who like to drink beer, but asks you to notice that “the ad doesn’t say the beer is for people who like to taste beer.” The article says most of the ad is on target and wraps up saying “Craft drinkers have dismissed macro beer and have been openly condescending to its fans for years; turnabout is certainly fair play.” Ad Age says, and I agree, the ad is notable for its swagger. The ad, by Anamoly, “marks the return of ‘This Bud’s For You,’ which has not been used in a significant way in Bud advertising since the late 1970s, according to the brewer.”
The debate still rages over whether Bud is good beer. But the debate is over about whether Bud can craft good ads.
I thought it was very effective. They are losing market share to craft brewers. They want to retain their core Bud drinkers, so this gives that group a feel good motive for drinking their Bud. Automakers have long employed this strategy. Auto ads, especially high end, are not so much about selling you a car, it’s more about making you feel comfortable with the purchase you just made from them and creating brand loyalty.
Spencer F. says
I see your point, Wade, and agree that that is probably their aim. But why claim to be a proud macro when they are ACTIVELY trying to buy out the craft beer competition? Plus, their beer is just garbage; little-to-no hoppiness and mild saltiness overly accentuated by the HUGE volume of dextrose used. Their commercial just put a stereotype that only hipsters drink craft beer while everyone else drinks their swill. Nope. Their beer is crap, the commercial was deliberately misleading (SHOCK!) and they are running scared. They can buy all the craft breweries they want; if they don’t mess with the beer in those breweries, they will be fine. But don’t sell me your (Anheiser Busch) Czech pilsner knockoff made with sub-par ingredients (like dextrose, low malt yielding 6-row barley, etc.) and tell me it’s quality. I know better. I’ll stick with my oatmeal stouts and Baltic porters, thanks.
I love these satire blogs…
Scott O says
Spencer, you just made the point that Budweiser isn’t a good beer for a multitude of personal reasons, completely discounting that consumers could like the brand for those exact reasons. In doing so, it backs up Wade’s intital point of the ad providing core Bud consumers (and others) comfort in their purchase. I think it is AB owning the fact that people have different tastes and preferences when it comes to beer, and it’s okay to like/drink a macro lager. Them buying craft breweries only backs up that point, since they want to reach as many consumers as possible, and as you so aptly stated Bud isn’t for everyone. There is nothing wrong with drinking a macro lager, and there is nothing wrong with drinking a Vienna Lager. It’s a matter of people having different tastes, this ad not only starts the discussion. It validates the brand with their core consumer. Envelope was pushed, but message was heard.
Bob P says
Agree with all but number 6. I don’t think Bud meant to say beer hipster are phonies. I think they meant that Bud drinkers are different from them. That Bud drinkers are in it for the enjoyment of drinking and enjoying rather than being fussed over and analyzed.
Robert C. Lehrman says
Thanks Bob. Whether or not the ad is calling them phonies, I do think the mockery is gentle, fair and lighthearted. Also, one would imagine Bud checked the ad fairly carefully in the days before the air date. It seems hard to believe the company did not realize the connection to their newly purchased Elysian peach pumpkin prune or-whatever-it-is ale. I suppose that’s the part that gently mocks themselves and not just others. Maybe next Bud can do one that gently or not so gently mocks “foreign” beers.
Robert C. Lehrman says
Does anyone have access to weekly sales figures for a large group such as Safeway? The ad was so good, in my opinion, I would not be surprised if Bud sales bumped up noticeably since the ad. As somebody mentioned, a big part of advertising is not just to motivate you to buy, but to feel good about your decision. On the latter, the ad hits the ball out of the park. I might be slightly embarrassed to buy Bud a month ago, but less so next month. I still probably would not pick it — largely because there are a zillion other choices, but still, now I can see at least one new reason to buy it (that “macro” beer is not necessarily anything to be sad about).
Robert C. Lehrman says
How often does one ad start a big discussion?
Here are some also eloquent rebuttals, suggesting that Bud has riled up a good discussion.
Ninkasi: http://youtu.be/ZEKqLxtjwDQ (71,756 views as of now).
Abita: http://youtu.be/ZMLMzhMBTPc (24,965 views).
Hopstories: http://youtu.be/VCgkTeuJkR8 (190,717 views).
This guy: is very funny and deserves a lot more views and a good editor, http://youtu.be/zEMl2h1qHLA (687 views).
The Bud ad is up to 4,483,310 views on YouTube alone.
John D. Messinger says
It’s not quite a rebuttal, but Mikkeller saw the Super Bowl ad as an opportunity to reach out to AB and formally invite them to participate in the 2015 Copenhagen Beer Celebration here.
Robert C. Lehrman says
Thanks John and I love how somebody “named” the beer “enthusiast” with the twirly beard — John. It’s in one of the videos, Pint Sized, I believe.
Bob P says
I kind of see it as they are trying to rally troops (Bud drinkers) and reinforce them as they (and AB-InBev) have been taking hits for years.Let’s face it Budweiser’s been losing drinkers for years and they’re trying to hold onto the ones they have. They more than likely conceded those lost to craft beer. Another way to look at is that the ad has created a lot of buzz and as they say any publicity is good pubicity.