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« Was the ad for Budweiser over the top? | Main | A good idea for the 4th »

More fussing about beer

I think ABI must have hit a chord with that Super Bowl ad “Brewed the Hard Way”.  See the previous post if you haven’t already read my copious wisdom.

Recent headlines…

  • “How craft beer is fighting back against Budweiser's belligerent Super Bowl ad”
  • “Beer fans lash out after craft brew Super Bowl ad”
  • “Reaction to Bud's craft-beer-slamming Super Bowl ad includes this made-in-Oregon spoof”
  • “Shots fired, shots returned! Craft beer hits back at Budweiser's attempted takedown”
  • “A-B Wins the Super Bowl, Again.  Airs Controversial Anti-Craft Ad”… thanks Harry ;-)
  • “Analyzing Budweiser's Hypocritical, Anti-Craft Beer Super Bowl Ad”
  • “Craft beer enthusiasts still foaming over Budweiser's Super Bowl ad”
  • “The Frothy Backlash to Budweiser Ad Mocking Craft Beer”
  • “Budweiser’s Awful Super Bowl Ad Is a Perfect Illustration of Why Young People Don’t Drink It”
  • “How Budweiser Upset Every Craft Beer Drinker and Brewer In America”

Belligerent?  Fans lash out?  Craft hits back?  Controversial?  Anti-craft?  Awful?  The vapors certainly seem to be making a comeback.  And no, I’m not talking about the song Turning Japanese ;-)

The brand Budweiser has been mentioned more in the last 5 days than it has in the last 5 years... well that might be an exaggeration but you get my point.  And that is a failure?  Who knows, the backlash against the backlash might just drive more people to give it a swig.

And people who are never going to drink the product anyhow are aflame in the twitter-verse.  This is the intersection of many things; social media, marketing, competition, cowardice and of course a hearty serving of idiots – which is what you will find in abundance in the twitter-verse. 

First, many craft brewers saw this as a chance to piggy-back on ABI’s ad.  This is a common response from small competitors in all types of markets… and it’s not a bad strategy.  The craft brewers who responded in some way to this ad all got A TON of free PR.  Their names were also mentioned more in the last few days than in all the years prior. 

MillerCoors had to respond so they too would be included in MANY of these stories… presenting themselves as kind of like a buddy to craft brewers.  Interesting strategy… I think I’ve heard of that from some business genius.

And of course the media plays it up because they need to feed the beast… the constant need for material to fill the space between the ads.  And “controversy” helps drive those click-rates… as do over-the-top headlines.  “Ronald Reagan dies!  His hair”

A side note about PR… back when I was running my tech-company, we would get great PR.  We were written about on a very regular basis.  And the next day the phone would ring off the hook!  Unfortunately the calls were all from real estate folks (you’ll be needing more space!), copy machine sales reps, telephone sales reps, etc. (I always tipped my hat to the sales folks, good prospecting on their part… although I didn’t appreciate their calls)  I don’t think we once got a clear lead from any PR we got.  Now we weren’t selling a consumer product but PR ain’t all it’s cracked up to be ;-)

Back to twitter-land… This reality also drives the “need” for rapid response, so that one can piggy-back ASAP.  And it drives the imperative that everyone and his dog jump in to get a piece of the action.  This drives a feeding-frenzy that generally WAY over-states the true impact/feelings of these responses.  In twitter-land, an hour or two (forget days) is a LONG time.   And it is just about as deep.

Just the other day The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on talk radio.  The listeners are still there in droves, but advertising rates have fallen as many national advertisers have fled from these stations… why?  Fear of being twitter-bombed by a small group of motivated activists.  It started in 2012 when liberal activists organized social media campaigns to go against advertisers on conservative talk shows.  Rush Limbaugh and his famous “slut” comment was one of the first of these campaigns.

But corporate America is not the land of the courageous.  Few people ever got fired for not doing something or not making a decision.  Now doing something?  That’s where the risk is.  So the easiest path is to roll over and attempt to offend no one… which is of course impossible. 

Thus my amazement (and admiration) that ABI actually did the piece.  I know a hell of a lot of beer distributors, ABI and MillerCoors, were cheering on that ad.  I know ‘cause they told me so.

I think more companies (and people) need to simply stand up to this feigned outrage by a handful of people… and never forget those 500 million tweets per day.  Get over it and go live your life however you desire.  And leave me the-f alone.

Getting the vapors and hiding behind our petticoats ain’t the way to go… especially for a mainstream BEER brand.  If beer gets as pussy-fied as a lot of the rest of the world, we are all lost ;-)  And trust me, the folks who drink Budweiser, Coors, etc. aren’t pussy-fied… nor do I expect them to ever be so. 

If I want to advertise to them, I’d be wise to understand this reality.  And if some blouse-wearing poodle walker - thank you Grounds Keeper Willie ;-) gets a’ fluttered, so be it.  They aren’t going to be purchasing the product anyhow so why exactly do we care what they think?! 

And guess what… the vast majority of craft beer drinkers also aren’t some pussy-fied, blouse-wearing poodle walkers so the craft industry walks on thin ice when they present themselves as such, vapors and all. 

Craft brewer aren’t doing themselves any favors (or proving their intellectual honesty) when they act as crybabies over this Fussing ad, yet they see nothing wrong with things like “Craft for Crap” where you can trade in a bottle of crap (yeah, Bud, etc.) for a craft beer.  Perhaps the big dog brewers should start talking about real crap like WAY over-aged beer… brewers who are afraid to even put code-dates on their beer… bottling line/manufacturing cleanliness, and other little things ;-) 

Or we could say hooray for all beer.  Some you might enjoy… some not.  So?

The vast majority of Americans aren’t pussy-fied, blouse-wearing poodle walkers; we do them a disservice acting as though they are and they can’t take a little good-natured ribbing… going in both directions. 

I’ve done many a re-organization where loud voices and cursing were the norm in the planning process.  Vigorous debate leads to better solutions.  And after the yelling was over, we go out and drink a few beers… and yes, even enjoy each other’s company.

Back to the ad… in summary I think both played to their audiences and each got a healthy, hooray for our side!  Super… now get back to work.

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