Starting May 23rd, cans and bottles of Budweiser will no longer say "Budweiser," but "America," which feels like something that should be illegal, but it is not.
According to the press release put out by Anheuser-Busch at 9 a.m. yesterday, this new branding will serve "as the focal point for its summer-long campaign —"America is in Your Hands"—which reminds people from sea to shining sea to embrace the optimism upon which the country was first built."
We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on U.S. soil for the first time, Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser. "Budweiser has always strived to embody America in a bottle, and we're honored to salute this great nation where our beer has been passionately brewed for the past 140 years.
While I think it's optimistic to expect this to make me want to embrace optimism, you have to give it to Budweiser for always doing the most, marketing-wise. Unfortunately, when I think of Anheuser-Busch, I don't feel particularly patriotic. This may be because they're actually not an American company anymore, and are owned by the giant, Belgium-based brewing company InBev, but it could just be because I don't like their beer and would rather support smaller American breweries.
The campaign will run through the general election in November, picking up business on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, as well as the Olympics, and you just know people will be buying it for the novelty factor. (I am curious about how this will affect Bud Light sales. I don't see InBev re-branding it as "America Light" but I really wish they would.)
The name isn't the only thing getting changed. Anheuser-Busch's initials will be swapped out for "US," and "E Pluribus Unum" will take the place of the beer's slogan, "The King of Beers." Instead of a description of the rice-heavy brewing process, consumers will find the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
This is all very bold, but InBev is a very bold company. Who can forget the overly-aggressive, almost panicky and defensive "NOT A FRUIT CUP" ad that aired during the Super Bowl?
Though the commercial is mostly comprised of insults being hurled at ponies, home brewers, fruit, and craft breweries, it does manage to make one valid point: Budweiser is NOT FOR EVERYONE. It's also interesting that they conclude the commercial with "NOT BACKING DOWN," as if craft breweries have been ganging up on them and stealing their lunch money.
It's almost as if they're trying to assure their shrinking fanbase that it's still "okay" to like Bud, and that anyone who tells them otherwise is a mean ol' un-American snob. Personally, I don't care if you drink Budweiser or not. I'm a big fan of drinking whatever the heck you want to drink, and I don't even hate all of Budweiser's advertising — I love all the puppies and horses and all of that crap — but these overly confident, slightly frantic ad campaigns reek of insecurity. Everyone is free to "like what they like," but that doesn't change the fact that Budweiser is objectively bad, and neither changing the name to "America" or refusing to "back down" from craft beer are going to change that fact. (I also don't think there is a problem with liking objectively crappy things. I love all kinds of shitty food and beverages; you just gotta own it, man.)
I will be interested to see how this particular campaign plays out. I think it will be at least mildly successful, because there is something appealing about holding a can or bottle with the word "AMERICA" emblazoned across it. I won't be partaking though. I already have a favorite patriotic beer: 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon. It has the Statue of Liberty on it and everything.