Thursday, February 5, 2015

Craft beer lovers: Get over that Bud ad, and yourselves

I'm willing to accept that I look a little like this. From the Budweiser ad.
I only watched the end of Super Bowl 四十九, but I've seen Budweiser's ad positioning itself as a "macro beer," because it launched 10,000 angry tweets and 1000 navel-gazing columns in publications including Slate, Fortune, Eater, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News ... the list goes on and on.

Here's a typical such column. I won't bother to link to more, because they all say the same thing: How dare Budweiser pick on craft beer! Those dummies, don't they realize I am young and important and I don't like their product?

All these outraged opinionaters have made a common mistake in writing about advertising: because they are at the center of the world, they cannot imagine that the ad could be targeted at anyone else.

It's called "market positioning," folks.

Craft beer lovers of the world are united in their opinion that Budweiser made a $9 million mistake by producing this ad. They're upset about the way craft beer lovers are portrayed in the ad: as hipsters who like to sniff their beer before drinking it, instead of just having a bottle of the same corporate product that all their shallow friends are drinking.

Two things wrong with this. 1) I look at that Budweiser ad and see people getting a tasting flight of beer to sample and talk about and think, yep, that'd be me.

2) That group of people who don't give a shit about what they're drinking? Nope, not me. THOSE are Budweiser's target customers.

The angry writers want to be both: they want to sniff their beer and be surrounded by shallow friends too. Well, you can have both, but not within the confines of this commercial. It's not a documentary, it's meant to sell a product -- and not to you.

Some writers have taken the trouble to point out that sales of corporate "macro brew," as Bud calls itself in the ad, are dropping among millennials, and that might present a problem for the future. However, as much as millennial writers like to believe they are the center of everything, they still don't buy anywhere near as much beer, wine and spirits as their elders.

If Bud wants to sell beer right now, the market of people who resent millennial craft beer drinkers is  bigger than the millennial craft beer drinker market. They can worry about the future in the future.

In fact, Bud is doing just that. Big beer companies aren't stupid. Bud just bought a brewery that makes Pumpkin Peach Ale at the same time they mocked Pumpkin Peach Ale on the Super Bowl ad. Would you believe there are completely different consumers for Budweiser and Pumpkin Peach Ale, and the market for the former is still exponentially bigger? If the market for the latter grows, Bud gets its money that way.

Miller High Life did a series of ads in which a black working man invaded the retreats of wealthy white men, like corporate boxes at ballgames, and took his brand of beer away from them because they weren't worthy. It didn't seem to upset people like the Bud ad, but the principle is the same. Miller is not trying to sell beer to people who go to corporate boxes; it's trying to sell beer to people who hate people who go to corporate boxes.

If you're wondering how many angry older men are out there to resent millennial craft beer snobs, take a look at the U.S. Congress. Who do you think voted for all those Republicans? Those voters watch football and buy beer too, probably more than you do.

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Rick Kushman said...

I'm in the throws of writing a piece on craft beer and wine, and you absolutely nailed the point about different drinks for different markets. Some folks -- well-intentioned, passionate people - have problems with wines that are, well, macro brewed and aimed at other wine drinkers. It's looking like beer and wine have yet another thing in common, a growing 'my way only' mindset among some people, though that group is still small. By the way: Super Bowl 四十九. Brilliant

Howard Bacaaazeo said...

@Rick Kushman:
Well stated, and I pretty much agree with your assessment. But I do hope that you spellcheck the piece you're writing before publishing it anywhere.
I'm guessing that you meant "throes" rather than "throws"... ;-)

Rick Kushman said...

Not if you see my writing process. I throw stuff everywhere. :)

Jan Dreier said...

Thanks Obviousman!
I am a craft brewer and I hate those beer snobs too (Who calls themselves a "snob" anyway). Sniffing a beer is ridculous unless you are on a tasting panel. Our segment is about to jump the shark with wayyyy to many brews than can barely be sipped much less drunk.
I congratulate AB-InBev for taking the piss out of those pretentious arses.