Responding to consumer demands for more discreet products, Anheuser Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), the world’s largest beer producer, announced Thursday that its flagship Budweiser will now be available in Coca-Cola cans. The move is targeted at consumers who wish to enjoy the iconic golden lager in parks, sidewalks, and other public places, but run up against laws prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages in those areas. “I can’t believe it took us this long to do this,” said Anheuser Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito. “It’s nothing more than Bud in a Coke can, but that’s all it takes to reach a massive market of drinkers who wish to enjoy their beers in public areas without fear of arrest.”
Brito, 52, said he was inspired to make the move after being ticketed by a “total dick” police officer in New York’s Bryant Park while he was drinking a 16-ounce tall boy of Budweiser in early April, “even though I had it in a paper bag.” Immediately after paying the $25 fine, he began working on the new packaging, which, he says, took almost no time at all.
“We just reprogrammed the machinery to paint the Coke design on the cans, but it’s the same old Bud inside,” Brito said. “Trust me, the cops will never bust you with one of these as long as you’re cool about it,” he added.
Analysts estimate that the move will boost the company’s revenues by 38% in the third quarter, while the introduction of Bud Light in Red Bull cans in the fourth quarter will lead to a 52% surge in sales.
Not to be left behind, SAB Miller said it was in the process of developing Miller Lite in Pepsi cans, which will hit store shelves by early July, just in time for municipal fireworks displays—a particularly troublesome time for public beer drinkers.
For his part, Brito welcomes the competition, saying that it only increases the previously-underserved market for surreptitious beer drinking. “Not only do we have existing public drinkers as consumers-in-waiting,” he said. “We’ve got a whole new market of people who’d love to sip a beer on the sidewalk, but were always too scared that they’d get busted.”
For a people that probably couldn’t locate Belgium on the map, Americans sure seem to hate Belgium. And the paranoia surrounding the 2008 purchase of Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser, by Belgian drinks conglomerate InBev—well, that’s only getting funnier. Because now they’re accusing the brewer of “watering down” their beer.
First of all, let’s take a moment to imagine what a watered-down Bud Light would be like. I’m envisioning: 100% water. Just a glass bottle of good old H2O. Ah, refreshing. What’s to complain about? Well, read how the U.S. beer swillers’ $5 million class action lawsuit puts it:
"Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that, as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products mentioned [in the lawsuit] are watered down," lead lawyer Josh Boxer said.
The complaint claimed that "Anheuser-Busch employs some of most sophisticated process control technology in the world to precisely monitor the alcohol content at the final stages of production, and then adds additional water to produce beers with significantly lower alcohol contents than is represented on the the labels."
Oh give me a break. As though a single one of you has ever bothered to scan a beer label that didn’t feature the St. Pauli Girl’s cleavage. To say nothing of the nutrition info on that giant bag of cheese balls in your lap. Maybe it’s time to graduate to IPAs, fellas.
Super Bowl 47 is behind us, Ray Lewis will take the field nevermore, Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (briefly) awed, wings were consumed and the field of multimillion-dollar commercials sported a whole lot of mediocre offerings. At their best, the ads will be memes maybe through the rest of the week, at their worst; they were sexist or overly pandering. Taco Bell went with the cliché old-people-gone-wild approach. Dodge will probably get a lot of people talking about the “God Made A Farmer” spot, which, though beautifully done, making a very important point and featuring the beautiful, clear ringing voice of Paul Harvey, felt cheap and pandering at the end when it became about the truck. Also, it’s been done, and not as a car commercial.
And then there was the usual glut of gross, objectifying ads, which it’s sad that I even have to say “usual glut of gross, objectifying ads” in 2013 or at all, including Audi calling assaulting a woman “brave,” Axe Body Spray continuing to corner the douche market and GoDaddy surprising no one. Why do you actively want to pay lots of money to continue to be the absolute worst in front of millions of people, GoDaddy? Why? It is 2013, there have been 47 Super Bowls, ads objectifying women and excusing sexual assault are a part of our collective largest cultural event and an expectation, and advertisers should know better than that. We can do better.
That said, not every Super Bowl commercial was completely terrible. Here are some things people put in their commercials that made them entertaining or effective without being sexist or cheapening an important point. See you next year.
I. Staged fights in unlikely places.
Not much to say about this one other than the Oreo library brawl commercial was the first ad of the whole night that I didn’t flat-out hate. There’s still a place for slapstick, and it’s a pretty typical device for Super Bowl spots, but it worked here.
II. Stars from recently departed or on-their-way-out NBC comedies.
Nothing like watching the soul-crushing circle-jerk of CBS touting their “most watched” status during the breaks thanks to awful, unfunny sitcoms like Two-and-a-Half Men and 2 Broke Girls to make you want to watch the programming of pretty much any other network. Appropriately enough, two of the funniest ads of the night came from stars from NBC’s Thursday night lineup, the first in which National Treasure Amy Poehler made jokes about the word “dongle” for Best Buy and Twitter went crazy because Amy Poehler.
And then, for Americans still mourning the loss of 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan essentially reprised Tracy Jordan / played himself in a brief tribute to American ingenuity for Mio Fit sports drinks. “We didn’t like the shape of our chickens so we made them into nuggets!”
III. Baby pandas in spacesuits.
This Kia Sorrento commercial that responded to “where do babies come from?” was a bit bizarre, but it did have smiling baby pandas in spacesuits, which is certainly an upgrade from those weird E-Trade talking baby commercials that dominated the space for a while. We’re moving up, people.
The Budweiser Clydesdales have become as synonymous with the Super Bowl as the Lombardi trophy and Buffalo wings, so expectations (at least among people who pay attention to advertising things) are pretty high. Like many hyperemotional Super Bowl ads, this one was cheesy and using our emotions to sell us stuff, but it included two of the most wonderful and effective tug-at-the-heartstrings devices: interspecies friendships and “Landslide.” Mostly “Landslide.” For real, you could set one of those terrible Axe body spray commercials to “Landslide” and it would seem like there was actually a soul present in it.
V. Leon Sandcastle.
A lot of the ads about football during a football game were hokey or overdone, but Deion Sanders’ goofy “Leon Sandcastle” spot, wherein the NFL Network lampooned the hype machine it creates, was fun.
VI. Willem Dafoe as Satan.
Like most car commercials throughout the evening, the “Soul” spot for Mercedes-Benz was kind of dumb, but “Sympathy for the Devil” and a smirking Dafoe redeemed it. Someone needs to make a movie wherein Willem Dafoe plays the Devil. He’s already played Jesus. It only makes sense.
The Super Bowl is this Sunday, which really means that it’s Beer Day, a day devoted to quaffing the world’s oldest and most perfect alcoholic beverage. I love beer, which is why I was disappointed that a sample pack of the new Budweiser Black Crown was sent to one of my colleagues in the Vibe Media office, and not me. But alas, said colleague no longer works here, and the shiny steel suitcase that looks like it should contain nuclear launch codes wound up in my possession. And so, whether the honchos of Anheuser-Busch InBev in Leuven wanted me to or not, I happily sampled the latest offering from Budweiser last night.
So here’s the deal with Budweiser Black Crown, from what I can gather from the marketing materials as well as my own not insubstantial beer knowledge. It’s the result of something called "Project 12," a yearlong process that asked brewmasters from Budweiser breweries across the country to create a new brew based on the classic Budweiser lager that uses the proprietary yeast descended from the original Budweiser strain developed by Adolphus Busch in 1876. Of the 12 recipes that resulted, Black Crown was the clear favorite.
Its recipe was developed in Los Angeles, with collaboration from brewmasters in Fairfield, California and Houston. It comes in a distinctive long neck bottle with a black label with gold and silver accents, giving it a dark, distinctive look that suggests it belongs in fancy nightclubs where men wear black slacks and women sport black stilettos, rather than on the tailgate of some F-150 parked in the infield at Talladega. As with the "black" versions of so many beverages these days (see: Guinness Black Lager) it seems that Budweiser is trying to expand its audience to include those who would normally drink cocktails and other beverages that are perceived as classier than beer. Its slightly elevated alcohol content – Budweiser Black Crown comes in at 6% vs. regular Bud’s 5% and Bud Light’s 4.2% – would underscore this. No, it’s not a vodka tonic, but the liquid contained in this slick-looking bottle definitely has a kick. Maybe it’s enough to grab those who are on the fence about what to order.
Of course, taste is the most important selling point of all, and on that it succeeds. When I got home last night, I pulled an icy bottle of Budweiser Black Crown from my fridge, twisted off the cap (why can’t all beers have twist-off caps?), turned on the latest episode of Top Chef (Stefan is so funny!) and had a couple of swigs of the amber lager. My first reaction: this is a smooth, refreshing beer. It definitely has the characteristics of standard Budweiser lager, which I have always liked, but with a greater depth of flavor and a nice hoppy edge without being bitter. My notes say that I found it dry with flavors of cereal and rice that reminded me, in a pleasant way, of Saltine crackers. As with the new Beck’s Sapphire, which I recently reviewed, Budweiser Black Crown both looks and tastes stylish, and wouldn’t be out of place in the VIP section of some club, where the Black Card-rockin’ music industry exec finally got sick of champagne and ordered the drink his palate really craves: beer.
Standard Budweiser, with its iconic red label, hews toward rustic Americana. It’s the beer of the farmers who till the soil, the builders who create the homes we live in. It’s a beer for everybody, really. Bud doesn’t discriminate, though there are those who discriminate against Bud–beer snobs who scoff at the idea of an affordable mass market lager, then guzzle the much worse tasting PBR ironically, because it somehow has the hipster cachet Bud lacks. Well, Budweiser Black Crown isn’t exactly a hipster beer either, but it is a bold step toward sophistication that takes the best of the brand’s DNA and ads just enough zing to make it a serious option in serious bars.
Nice work, Bud. Now, there’s a football game on somewhere, right?
Last week, we learned that Jay-Z would be curating and headlining an eclectic music festival called "Made In America" that would be held over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia. Today, organizers released the lineup for Made In America, which will be held September 1st and 2nd at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and benefit United Way.
Our bet on The Roots as a headliner was apparently wrong (for now—could still happen), and so far, Hov hasn’t seemed to bag President Obama for a guest cameo to sing "Let’s Stay Together." That said, the fest does have a pretty formidable lineup spreading over hip-hop, rap, dance music, indie-rock and mainstream alternative heavy headliners and even some California punk icons.
So here’s your Made In America top-billing acts so far, in handy YouTube playlist format. The rest can be found over at the festival’s Facebook page.
Maybach Music (feat. Rick Ross, Wale and Meek Mill):
Remember the 2010 FIFA World Cup? My heart is still pounding from all the exciting tie games, fake injuries, and referee fuck-ups. Do I really have to wait another three years to witness football of that caliber again? Thankfully not, as there is a Super Bowl of football planned for this coming Sunday in Dallas, Texas. Granted, this match represents American-style football, but how different could that be from the Worldly kind? Surely both contenders will play with a similar fear of being scored upon, thus devoting their energy to complex defenses that are so fascinating for intelligent and cultured fans to watch that we’d never think to suggest a minor rule change to encourage even more action. There’s no way we could handle it.
But while we’re taking inspiration from the classier 95% of the planet, let’s be sure to repeat the single most interesting thing that happened during last year’s World Cup, the invasion of the Bavaria Beer Babes. You may recall how 36 smoking hot female fans wearing identical orange dresses were escorted from the stands at the Netherlands v. Denmark match because they were part of an ambush marketing campaign for Bavaria Beer, thus representing a grave threat to official sponsor Budweiser, a large Belgian-owned malt beverage company that paid handsomely for the right to advertise to fans. And yet, for obvious reasons, the stunt garnered plenty of media attention, with Bavaria stifling laughter as they forked over their undisclosed settlement and headed back to the good life in Amsterdam.
Well, Bud’s the exclusive beer advertiser for this year’s Super Bowl as well, and will be through 2014, so I have little doubt they’ll have copyright cops watching the stadium entrances very closely for those attempting a similar stunt. (“Think you can keep an eye out for groups of hot girls, Lou?”) My advice: beat Bavaria at its own game. Dress up four score Budweiser babes in similarly snug red-and-white dresses and populate the stands with an unmissable cheering section amid the thousands of real fans from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the rest of the Rust Belt. Even if it lacks the renegade element of a South Africa-style ambush, it would still attract plenty of eyeballs.
The only risk would be something interesting happening on the field of play, diverting attention from the stands. I believe that’s a risk we should be prepared to take.
These are tough times for Budweiser. Sales of the classic American Belgian lager have been on a downward trajectory for years – especially among the prized under-30 demographic – as drinkers switch to craft beers, even cheaper beers, or light beers. As USA Todaypoints out, Anheuser-Busch hopes to counter this trend by rolling out a new campaign to promote a hipper image for Bud and, amazingly, giving away a whole bunch of free beer in bars this month with the hope that people will taste it and say, “Wow, this stuff is great.” Will the campaign succeed in returning Bud to the top of the suds world, or will the King of Beers be demoted to prince, duke, or … joker?
Despite my ample beer snobbery, I’m not going to make fun of Budweiser. It’s not a bad-tasting beer. It just doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor when compared with my usual brews like Brooklyn, Sixpoint, and Guinness. But it is refreshing, it is cheap, and it gets you lifted. It’s the perfect beer to chug when you’re done mowing the lawn or fixing a car or any other manly activity that I don’t actually do but imagine I might some day. And it’s definitely better than hipster swill like Pabst Blue Ribbon, and only a smidgeon pricier.
It’s just that Bud had it so good for so long, with a de facto monopoly on the American beer market, that it’s feeling kind of rudderless right now, suffering death by a thousand cuts from countless brewing upstarts. And their past campaigns haven’t worked. Drinkability? You’re really setting the bar high when your selling point is that your beer is actually drinkable as opposed to … not drinkable. And all those ads that show guys destroying a house to get at the hidden beer? Resorting to such desperate measures for a drink is a sign of alcoholism, isn’t it?
But “Grab Some Buds,” their new slogan, sounds about right. It’s not pretentious. It doesn’t make Bud out to be anything more than it is: a smooth, refreshing, affordable brew that’s perfect for casual get-togethers with your buds. And if the bar’s giving it away for free in an attempt to get you to like it, all the better.
Advertising is a tough business, and I don’t have any pearls of wisdom on how to get consumers to buy your products, but I do know one thing: when given an opportunity to promote your competitor’s products, don’t. Apparently nobody schooled FIFA on that one, because the global soccer body, acting on behalf of World Cup sponsor Budweiser, did just that when they kicked out a gaggle of hot chicks during the second half of Monday’s Netherlands v. Denmark match. The group of 36 comely female fans from Holland and South Africa was (allegedly) promoting Dutch brewer—and Budweiser competitor—Bavaria by wearing eye-catching orange dresses that were part of a Bavaria Beer pack sold during the run-up to the games. The ambush marketing stunt was abetted by British soccer pundit Robbie Earle, who provided a block of tickets to the girls who did nothing more during the match than hoot, holler, sing, and look hot. They didn’t even have vuvuzelas!
Now, I know that Belgian-owned Budweiser paid hansomely for exclusive beer-advertising rights during the World Cup, and FIFA was duty-bound to quash any stunts by competitors, but by making such a spectacle of the girls’ ejection, they accomplished the opposite of what they intended. Today, the Bavaria Beer Babes are gracing newspapers and websites around the world with their tales of innocence and rough treatment by officials. And I’m aware of a beer I didn’t know about before, and I kind of want one right now.
I know there’s a lot of money at stake, but since the babes were able to infiltrate the stadium, FIFA really should have waited until the game was over to confront them, if at all. The marketing message would have been lost on most viewers anyway. The dresses didn’t have a beer logo on them, and orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, making them look like other Netherlands supporters, only way, way prettier. The cameras would have lingered over them during breaks in the action, tongues would wag, and it would be over. Instead, soccer fans weary of watching tie after tie after tie have a new story to spice up the games. It’s almost like Bavaria planned it this way, and would have been disappointed if the girls weren’t escorted out mid-match.
Now soccer fans the world over know a few things about Bavaria Beer, namely: 1. It exists. 2. It’s a competitor to Budweiser. 3. It’s associated with a group of gorgeous, blonde soccer babes with bright smiles and sun-kissed skin who got frog-marched out of Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg by 40 security guards just for supporting their team.
And Budweiser? They’re the ones with the commercials with those big horses, right?
Sorry, Bud. Bavaria just slipped one past the goalie.