Punching Down

I go on about marketing occasionally; it’s not that it’s a pet hate of mine, more a source of constant cringing. When done well it sticks in your mind for many years, triggered by a phrase or a tune. When done badly it can cause so many unintended (so they say) repercussions.

The current source of my cringe, and an amount of ire, is Budweiser. In the past Budweiser have done some pretty good adverts. The frogs and the chameleon come straight to mind. Inoffensive, slightly amusing, made me see the company in a new light after their long-running battles with Budvar, the only decent part of which was when Budweiser marketed their beer with the rather egotistical slogan “The King of Beers”, to which Budvar responded with the more accurate “The Beer of Kings.” Yes, that’s my sense of humour.

But Budweiser just can’t seem to leave it alone and sell their products on their own merits. Perhaps because in some instances they have no merits, but that’s debatable. In 2016 they were so threatened by the rise of Craft in the U.S. that they paid for a Superbowl advert that took the mick out of craft beer and the people who make and drink it. Instead of promoting their own beers. Trying to make themselves look better by trying to make their competitors look worse, mocking pumpkin peach ales, and claiming their push-button automated factories enabled them to brew their beer the “hard way”.

And they’re at it again. There must be someone in their head office who really hates the craft scene.

Recently Budweiser launched possibly the second-worst beer they produce into the UK. Bud Lite. All the lacking flavours, even less alcohol. Low- and no-alcohol drinks are a growing sector in the UK at the moment and it seems that Budweiser want their share of it. Which would explain why they also launched their worst beer into the UK at the same time, their alcohol-free Bud, albeit to much less of a fanfare.

I genuinely felt sorry for the people handing out free samples of Bud Lite at train stations and throughout city centres to morning commuters. I think they knew what the marketing guys at Budweiser knew, it’d be a hard sell here. Hence the free samples at launch. And it was: I saw a fair few of the mini cans in the bins nearby, unopened.

Then they brought the frogs back, rehashing their big marketing success for the new, unpopular beer. It was a good move, but it wasn’t good enough. So now we have the new advert.

Have you ever seen a Simpsons or Family Guy episode where they’re in England? An England we, as English, don’t recognise? An England where everyone’s teeth look like tumbledown cemeteries, where clothes are in tatters, technology is basic and the accents make Dick Van Dyke sound like he was actually born within hearing of the Bow Bells. Episodes that, in short, take the piss out of us for a few laughs. And we laugh along because they’re actually funny.

And that seems to be what Budweiser aimed for with their ‘Dilly Dilly’ campaign. An Olde Worlde castle with Disneyesque royals (Beer of Kings touch a nerve?) accepting cases of Bud Lite. Dilly dilly. And then a loyal subject presents a bottle of spiced mead he’s “really into at the moment” (must really hate the craft scene) and for his thoughts, his desire to break away from the mass-production-swilling-herd, gets taken off to be tortured. Tortured? Seriously? Somewhere in the minds of the folk at Budweiser they think that if you don’t drink their beer you should be taken away and tortured. Dilly dilly.

So we have an advert that’s taking the mick out of our accents, dilly dilly. Treating history as though it’s something to be rewritten to sell something no one seems to want, dilly dilly. And recommends torturing people who don’t agree with them, dilly dilly.

Well, take your dilly dilly and shove it where the Lite doesn’t shine.