Budweiser had an ad during the 2015 Super Bowl poking fun at craft beers and the fans of that fast growing market segment.
Here is the video followed by a transcript of the ad text:
Proudly a macro beer. It’s not brewed to be fussed over. It’s brewed for a crisp, smooth finish. This is the only beer Beechwood aged since 1876. There’s only one Budweiser. It’s brewed for drinking. Not dissecting. The people who drink our beer are people who like drinking beer. To drink beer brewed the hard way. Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds. This is the famous Budweiser beer. This bud’s for you.
Here is some data that explains the pressure Budweiser is currently experiencing:
Budweiser‘s market share has fallen from 8.4% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013.
44 percent of drinkers between the ages of 21 and 27 have supposedly never tried Budweiser(as per WSJ).
Even factoring in these stats, this ad surprised me in a number of ways.
Budweiser ran a cute puppy and clydesdale ad – something they are known for – earlier in the game and this second ad destroyed the sentiment their well-known and usually loved first ad created.
It‘s also surprising to learn Budweiser‘s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev recently purchased a craft beer called Elysian. This beer is just one addition to their existing portfolio of craft beers. Yet their second ad mocking craft beer is comparable to if Chrysler mocked Jeep without realizing Jeep is the fastest growing brand in their portfolio.
On a more general level, I‘m surprised that a major brand runs an ad on such clear negativity. A little pun towards the competition is one thing but to outright mock what is considered a core demographic for Budweiser is something we strongly advise not doing. They quickly elevated themselves to number one target in many pubs around the nation. Craft beer drinkers might have little to no sentiment towards a Coors or Pabst but will certainly remember the Budweiser ad for some time and have a negative view of the brand.
Here is one thing that did not surprise me: At the time of writing, the video had about 1400 likes and 9000 dislikes on YouTube. That‘s a pretty clear statement by the audience.
In a case like this, I‘d also factor in the internal effects within a brand. I think having the utmost respect for competition is crucial. It shows sincerity towards the customer base and keeps brands on the path of lifelong learning. If brands act out of a cynical mindset and stop taking a competitor seriously they will ultimately pay the price for it. By being negative towards competitors, brands set themselves up to be a target and become more vulnerable. Customers might block out all forms of negativity resulting in messages falling on deaf ears.
A small brand might be the little stinging bee on occasions but Budweiser looks like the 800 lb gorilla throwing rocks at a glass house.
Long story short: if you have a strong message that is negative make it even stronger by giving it a positive spin.