Here’s our theory: Being a robot of ever-increasing proportion, Beer Voltron is not programmed to understand the concept of hypocrisy — the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.
Here’s our argument: The New England Patriots defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Great game, right? Well, we can’t remember a thing from that match-up except for the television advertisement below from Anheuser-Busch InBev (code name: Beer Voltron). “Brewed the Hard Way!” It’s a phrase Anheuser-Busch actually wanted to trademark (but lost to a craft brewer) after the infamous Budweiser Super Bowl ad portrayed craft beer fans as fussy, know-it-all, pinky drinkers who love to sip “pumpkin peach ale” out of snifters, while depicting “blue collar” Bud Light-type brands as the pinnacle of hard-working Americanism.
Here’s our evidence: This year, during Super Bowl 50 (a game so important that the NFL is dropping the Roman numerals), Anheuser-Busch will now be running an ad promoting its craft brand Shock Top. We quote MarketWatch:
During this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 7, when the price of a 30-second ad will come in around $5 million after costing just $2.5 million a decade ago, Anheuser-Busch InBev plans on tucking an ad for its Shock Top line of wheat beers among its ads for Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. While the Brewers Association and beer geeks may not consider Shock Top “craft,” it’s certainly the biggest step ABI has taken in that direction on Super Bowl Sunday.
Here’s our conclusion: A-B InBev will stop a nothing to confuse consumers into buying both its macro- and craft-style brands, and here’s its five-point strategy.
#1. Create your own quasi-craft brands.
#2. Snatch up craft brews that are looking to sell.
#3. Defend macro brews, bash craft snobs.
#4. Control distribution.
#5. Merge and overwhelm the marketplace.
The Super Bowl is an excellent venue to get those messages out. According to MarketWatch:
According to Nielsen, millennials are 34% more likely to drink beer than the average U.S. consumer, 34% more likely to buy imports, 26% more likely to buy craft beer, 74% more likely to buy malt beverages, and nearly twice as likely to buy hard cider. Anheuser-Busch InBev has been bulking up in all of those categories, but it hasn’t relinquished its use of more traditional methods. ABI paid the National Football League $1.2 billion in 2011 to wrest the league’s official beer sponsorship away from Molson Coors and just paid another $1.4 billion last year to extend that sponsorship through 2022. It’s also spent $278.3 million during the past decade — about $10 million a year more than any other sponsor — to not only air ads for Budweiser and other brands during the Super Bowl, but to buy exclusive beer rights from Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC that prevent all other beer companies from buying big-game airtime.