Budweiser and parent Anheuser- Busch InBev are creating advertising controversy once more, this time attacking a certain red fruit sometimes used to brew summer ales.
Everyone in the craft beer world is fully aware of Budweiser’s craft beer Super Bowl stab. You know- the expensive seconds of advertising that poked fun at “pumpkin peach ales” and craft beer in general. According to the controversial and misguided ads, craft beer isn’t as authentic because, among other reasons, the golden, over-carbonated, generically flavored Budweiser and its kin are “brewed the hard way.” The reaction to the Super Bowl advertisement from the craft beer community was swift and direct, with many craft breweries vowing to launch their own pumpkin peach ale in response.
Now, Budweiser is at it again. This time, the target is summer beers made with watermelon. The Tweet depicts a guy hoisting a 12 pack of Budweiser over his shoulder with the caption:
Nobody Cheers for the Guy Who Brings a Watermelon Wheat Beer
Only a fraction of breweries have a watermelon wheat beer in the product lineup, but there is at least one beer that comes to mind: Hell or High Watermelon, a beer brewed by San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery. As you might imagine, fans of this award winning Bay area brewery were quick to combat Budweiser’s negative comments, with many of them responding directly to the Tweet with some stabs of their own.
True, this time around Budweiser only posted a Tweet, so the potential reach is much smaller than that of the Super Bowl Advertisement (and a lot less costly!). But Budweiser’s tactics are still somewhat puzzling. Is the company going after craft beers because they know it will stir up controversy and, well, bad press is better than no press? Or, after ignoring the craft beer segment for decades, is Anheuser- Busch making subtle attack ads because they know the craft beer movement is real and cannot be ignored? The company’s own Shock Top brand makes fruit flavored beers, so why does A-B InBev feel the need- or justification- to attack other breweries that do the same? If their product is so good, then why not create advertisements that emphasize Budweiser’s quality and great taste?
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: Budweiser and its macro- brewing parent Anheuser- Busch InBev, are brands in decline. With a few exceptions, the macro beers are losing market share and I suppose in their estimation, if poking fun at people who drink beer made with wheat malt and watermelons results in at least some attention, it’s better than nothing at all.
I don’t expect these attack ads to stop here. I fully expect Budweiser to go after everything from hefeweizens to Belgian tripels in the months ahead as it struggles to improve market share. This, while still pursuing craft brewery acquisitions as part of its business strategy. It’s hypocritical, it’s tacky, and it’s immature. But what do you expect from a brand that’s in decline?
Sorry Budweiser, but you won’t find a twelve pack of A-B beer hoisted over my shoulder. And I’m completely confident my friends will approve.