Marketing Challenge: Should a beer company be political?
Budweiser ran an unusual television commercial during this year’s Super Bowl. It covertly addressed the controversial immigration issue that engulfs our nation. “Born the Hard Way” portrayed the Budweiser founder, Adolphus Busch, as he arrived in St. Louis fresh from Germany and the negative resistance he initially encountered. It was a bold effort to show the brand, values and history but it probably rubbed many people the wrong way. It did me. Did the “King of Beers” intentionally get political?
The ad comes at a time of Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban. For a company that mainly uses Clydesdales and wagons to portray their image, this was a sudden marketing ethics turn. Last year they hit huge because after the Super Bowl came to an end, when Peyton Manning said his plans after the Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Panthers included “drinking a lot of Budweiser.” Talk about “word of mouth”(or in mouth) marketing! Sales quickly skyrocketed. In 2013 Budweiser also did well with a tear jerking picture of a rare friendship between a Golden Retriever puppy and a Clydesdale. Talk about a marketing touchdown. They’ve long established a media savvy approach in marketing by aiming straight for the heart of their audience. Budweiser marketing is all about emotional responses. Their Super Bowl commercials make us laugh and cry. So why the abrupt shift in gears?
Regardless of which side of the immigration spectrum you are upon, I believe Trump wants to invigorate the American Dream. Back in Adolphus’ turn of the century the immigrants assimilated nicely in society even with tough adversity encounters. Today things are much different. We did not have the tremendous influx of religious zealots, violence and the financial discord issues that now plague the nation. So while Budweiser’s ad represents a glowing representation of the American dream of yesteryear, today the truth is more complicated.
I thought the timing was bad. Budweiser may lose more consumers then acquire them with this ad. I believe our new president needs stalwart support. Political jabs like this Budweiser commercial only erode confidence and perpetuate doubts rather than promote trust. If I were in the shoes (or horse hoofs) of the beer advertisers I’d stay away from issues that cause dispute and not unity. The underlying message seemed to be overall a cheap poke at Trump. Eventually, ethical decisions are based on moral philosophy. Whether this ad is a stab at moral idealism, utilitarianism, both, or whatever, I think it entices discord in the nation. Budweiser wants drinkers to jump on this bandwagon when they should be jumping on the Clydesdale wagon. An ice-cold bottle of Bud speaks for itself and doesn’t need to express a political message.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtBZvl7dIu4- It tells the story of a successful immigration that superseded adversity.
http://www.prweek.com/article/1423460/pr-pros-budweisers-controversial-super-bowl-ad-prime-example-bold-storytelling- many seeing the ad as a response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban
http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ad-meter/2017/02/05/boycottbudweiser-debate-getting-super-bowl-treatment/97531390/- Many reactions including boycotting Bud.