Last week, social media went into a tizzy when Anheuser-Busch announced its cans and bottles will read “America” instead of Budweiser for the next six months.
— Budweiser (@Budweiser) May 10, 2016
Not surprisingly, people weren’t very happy about this change. To start, Anheuser-Busch was bought in 2008 by InBev, a Brazilian company in Belgium. Much of the criticism of the "America" campaign came from people who are saying Budweiser isn’t very American at all.
@Budweiser a little ironic coming from a company that is not even American owned.
— Chris Kerr (@chriskerrwx) May 11, 2016
— Evan Fischer (@fisch_11) May 11, 2016
They are (kind of) correct — Anheuser-Busch is now owned by InBev, an overseas company, but still headquartered in St. Louis. However, that hasn't stopped Budweiser from being one of the top-selling beers in the U.S. — and its sister beer Bud Light is No. 1 by more than $3 billion in sales.
Consumers also showed displeasure with the timing of the name change. Many believe this is a cheap ploy by Anheuser-Busch to benefit from the 2016 presidential race. Joseph Anthony, CEO of Hero Group, a full service marketing agency in New York City, says, "There were few aspects of society that had seemed immune from the binary and partisan political climate of 2016. Thanks to Budweiser, we can now cross beer off that increasingly small list."
Regardless of the backlash, Anheuser-Busch is proving it's power with this campaign. Here are three reasons "America" is a great marketing move.
1. Gets People Talking
"Social media was flooded by millennials mocking the name-change, but behind every 'Murica' joke spouted on Twitter, there is an appreciation and fascination with this decision," explains Anthony.
It's hard to keep up with all the "Budweiser" Twitter mentions and tags. Instagram is already stocked full of photos of the "America" cans and bottles. These pictures will undoubtedly be Photoshopped and memes will be made. There will be jokes told on talk shows and written on bar chalkboards.
However, this isn't a bad thing. It all adds up to content and conversation centered around Budweiser. (Free marketing, anyone?)
2. Win Back Core Customers
Budweiser sales have been declining over the past few quarters, so this is a great time for Anheuser-Busch to change things up a bit.
Mindset Media, a market researcher specializing in psychographics, did a study a few years ago and found out some interesting things about Bud drinkers.
The study states, "Budweiser drinkers are 42 percent more likely to drive a truck than the average person, 68 percent more likely to choose a credit card with flexible payment terms and 42 percent more likely to use breath-freshening strips every day."
The study also concludes that Bud drinkers are emotionally steady, practical and aren't too keen on authority. Isn't that what everyone thinks of when they think of the stereotypical Budweiser drinker? A middle-class, truck-driving, patriotic, union worker.
Anthony sums it up, "Whether Budweiser understood this or not, they have positioned themselves as the beer of middle America." The "America" cans and bottles speak directly to this person, lyrics to "This Land Is Your Land" and all.
3. Connect Emotionally
2016 is a big year for the United States — both a presidential election and the summer Olympic games are happening. Adam Padilla, CEO of BrandFire Marketing Group in Ontario, says, "It’s fun and harmless to do a run of packaging with a novelty name, especially when it’s timely."
What's more timely than an "America" beer in summer 2016? Budweiser is bringing Americans together and connecting with consumers on a human level. Padilla goes on to say, "It’s goofy, silly and kind of genius. Who’s not going to smile while lifting a cold can of 'America' at a summer bbq?"
Do you think Anheuser-Busch is setting itself up for disaster or is this a winning marketing campaign?