You could say that Budweiser's Super Bowl ad slamming beer lovers is a success, since it ruffled enough feathers to linger in the national conversation. But is "Brewed the Hard Way" targeting Millenials who hate beer snobs, or beer snobs who hate snobbishness, or snobs who hate beer or ... ?
Here's some of the commercial's text: "Proudly a macro beer. It's not brewed to be fussed over. ... 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 drink their pumpkin peach ale. We'll be brewing us some golden suds."
We'll forget about the Bud guy fussing over Bud in the ad, and the fact that Anheuser Busch just bought Elysian Brewing Co., which actually brews a pumpkin, peach and pecan ale called Gourdgia On My Mind. (Read Elysian's reaction here. Poor rich bastard.) The company knows it needs to do something. As the Wall Street Journal noted, "Budweiser volumes have declined in the U.S. for 25 years, from its nearly 50-million-barrel peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year."
The ad has inspired a variety of backlash — from the parody video made by Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing (embedded below) to the handful of Colorado breweries planning to make a pumpkin peach ale in retribution — but our favorite happened a little closer to home:
Ryan Hannigan, who writes for the beer blog Focus on the Beer and also works as a designer for our sister paper the Colorado Springs Business Journal, spent a couple dollars to buy the URL brewedthehardway.com for a year and, naturally, had it redirect to craftbeer.com, the home of the Boulder-based Brewers Association (which often hosts beers like Budweiser at its Great American Beer Festival, but is almost entirely made up of microbreweries).
"Essentially, I just saw it as a backhanded way to dig at Budweiser for their Super Bowl ad, mainly because I saw it not as an attack on the craft brewers, but more on the consumers of craft beer," he says in an interview. "So, it seemed a little disjointed.
"If they wanted to really appeal the craft-brewing consumer base," says Hannigan, Budweiser might have considered maybe talking about their beer. "In the ad itself they fussed over the fact that they use Beechwood to age it, but they didn't really provide any specifics on why they use that: By doing that, that helps them speed up their fermentation so they can actually put out a cleaner product, since the lagering process takes a fair amount of time. ..."
"All their ads tug at the heartstrings, with the dog and the horses, and that one just seemed out of place and really, like everyone's been saying, an attack."