In hailing last week’s announcement by Budweiser that they will rename their product “America” beginning May 23, David Covucci asked here on BroBible whether “there is anything, my Bros, more American than drinking a fucking Budweiser?” And I can’t argue, particularly drinking an ice cold bottle while riding a bald eagle, eating a panda steak and shooting an AR-57 into the air.
Yet beyond the amazeball factor of Bud patriotizing its curtains and carpets, as a guy who helps brands and organizations build and shape reputation, its worth noting that even though the move has been widely panned, it might be one of the most insanely smart PR moves I’ve seen.
The reason why begins and ends with Donald Trump – the dude with the orange face and spaghetti squash mane who has miraculously become the presumptive Republication Party nominee for president. Bud noticed that beyond saying the most batshit crazy things we’ve ever heard from a presidential candidate, The Donald vaulted to the top of the heap by embracing the populist passions that were just waiting to explode out of America’s working class — the same audience that drinks Budweiser by the truckload.
Hence Budweiser smelled an opportunity to jump on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” train and is tapping into the unbridled nationalist passions by its middle-American core drinker who could care less about latte art and the beer-snobbery that’s driven the craft beer boom.
Not to be outdone, however, is Saugatuck Brewing, a craft brewer producing about 15,000 barrels of suds annually in comparison to the 121.9 million barrels Bud produced in 2005. Noting Budweiser’s “America” effort, Saugatuck boldly announced it would begin producing ‘Murica brand beer.
Can I get a “hell yeah” in a Stone Cold Steve Austin voice, people?
“Fear not, America. We’re here to make beer named after America great again,” the brewer’s post on Facebook stated. “This ensures that every drop of our beer is as true and honest as our fore fathers before us. Unlike other ‘America’ beers, our brewery is completely American owned. What does it taste like, you ask? Freedom. It tastes like Freedom.”
Okay, okay, maybe it’s not real.
“This is a joke,” Saugatuck’s Megan Pruim admitted to MLive,“We were sitting around the brewery, having a little bit of fun and seeing the humor in it. We were playing around with the idea and decided to do something to make people laugh.”
Fair enough. So it’s a joke. But damn is it well-executed marketing genius.
Budweiser announced its effort on a Tuesday and by Wednesday the craft brewer launched its parody meant to capitalize on the hype as well as the scorn. And while Saugatuck’s beers are only distributed in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota — you can bet your ass that craft drinkers nationwide are now wondering how they can get their hands on the brewer’s actual products.
Yet here’s where both efforts really merge: America is the land of opportunity, right? It’s why immigrants not affiliated with Trump flock here by the millions. We see something and we act, like Tinder understanding people were insanely horny and owned smartphones, so why not connect the two? Budweiser and Saugatuck did the same thing. Bud identified that populism is sweeping the U.S. and Saugatuck understood craft beer drinkers think big beer sucks balls and is an easy target to make fun of. Hence, each brewer seized their respective opportunities faster than Kanye West seizes a moment to act like a dipshit. And that, friends, demonstrates the most American action possible. Seeing something and kicking ass.
Brands and organizations of all shapes and sizes are eager to become recognized leaders, sell their new products or services and more. But it in today’s ADHD-laced hyper-information world, it’s not that simple. Smart ones examine the landscape around them and oftentimes take timely, well-calculated creative leaps of faith.
Both Budweiser and Saugatuck did that — with vastly different budgets but to similar ends.
God bless ‘Murica.