Did Budweiser's Superbowl Ad Actually Hurt or Help Craft Beer?

By now almost everyone has seen the Budweiser TV ad attacking craft beer that premiered during the Superbowl.  In fact, many craft beer drinkers didn’t even see the rest of the game.  We were all too busy watching the battle explode on social media.

  • It was shocking--no one expected “The King of Beers” to get defensive.
  • It was offensive--they used ridiculous stereotypes to make fun of craft beer drinkers.
  • It was contradictory--The statement “It’s not brewed to be fussed over” was followed by “This is the only beer Beechwood Aged”--that sounds like you want someone to fuss over it!

In any case, there is plenty of chatter out there dissecting the ad.  But what does it say about the current climate of the beer industry? And what’s next?

It means they’re afraid of us!

“An Anheuser-Busch InBev research poll identified that 44 percent of 21- to 27-year-olds have never tried Budweiser.” says USA Today.  And the Brewers Association reports that while beer sales as a whole dropped almost 2%, last year craft beer sales were up almost 20% while craft beer export sales increased by 49%!

Did Budweiser think that this ad would encourage twenty-somethings drinking craft beer to pick up a Bud???

The ad has sparked a fight in Congress.  

Less than a week after the ad premiered two different bills were introduced in Congress:  The Fair BEER Act, (championed by the Beer Institute, whose largest members are Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors); and the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (BREW) Act (championed by the Brewers Association who represents smaller craft brewers).  The bills will determine taxation rates for beer based on production. The debate is has heated up fueled in large part by the Budweiser attack ad.  I bet they didn’t see that coming!

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the animated founder of the Small Brewers Caucus yelled, “They know that the craft beer industry is eating their lunch...More and more Americans are developing a taste for beer that isn’t insipid and has real taste, and so they’re now starting to buy them up.”

Does the evolution of wine preferences give us insight into what’s next?  

There was a turning point in the wine world in the 1990’s that feels very reminiscent of what is happening in beer--quality, not quantity. Wine consumption, especially of better-quality table wine, rose sharply: wines carrying generic labels such as “Chablis” or “Burgundy” and classified as jug wine fell from 65% of consumption in 1991 to 36% in 2001. Wines costing $7 a bottle or more were 9% of sales in 1991, and 28% in 2001 (Fredrikson 2003). 

So, what is to come?  Well,  if wine is an indicator then the future looks bright.  The Wine Institute reported a 200% increase in wine production values from 1998 to 2013.  This means that the beer world should expect more higher priced quality beers being produced and the continued decline of cheap low quality beers on a very large scale.

Maybe we should thank Budweiser for alerting millions more people around the world that the craft beer revolution is exploding!


Photo: via YouTube


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March 01, 2015

Absolutely, they are buying up craft breweries. They know that’s where the industry is headed!


February 24, 2015

A friend that works at one of Bud’s mid-west distributors, and knows my involvement with brewing and small breweries, told me that Bud is trying to find the craft brewers that would like to step up their business. They will come in and help expand your business,($$$), for exclusive distribution rights. Sounds like a buy out to me.

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