4 Feb

At some point in the eighties, a decision was made somewhere in Adland that no beer ad ever was allowed to convey any information WHATSOEVER about the beer. Information about beer became an advertising faux pas, and its avoidance as compulsory as the blue liquid that gets poured onto panty pads or the ‘hair shake’ on a shampoo ad. And so we  have grown up with lifestyle ads. Ads about camaraderie (Carling).  About comedy (Fosters). About style (Stella Artois). It must come as no shock then that we have reached the final destination on this advertising journey – a beer ad with no beer.

At over five minutes long, the Budweiser ad during this year’s Superbowl is pretty unforgivable. I am talking of course about the longer of the two (beerless) Bud offerings, entitled ‘A Hero’s Welcome”.

To save you watching it, an American soldier returning from a tour of duty in the Middle East is given a homecoming parade, sponsored by Budweiser. Lots of Vietnam vets get teary that they never had a homecoming themselves and the hapless soldier gets dragged through his hometown on top of a bus, no doubt wondering why his arrival back in America has been corporately raped by a brewing multinational.

The absence of beer is not the only weakness. How does his girlfriend explain to him that there is a camera crew in the back of her car? Why at around 4 minutes 40 is he drinking what looks like Starbucks? Surely that was an opportunity to give the guy a beer. I’m left with too many questions. Who at Bud has given up with sales messages and has decided that they don’t work for a beer company, they work for an entertainments channel? Have a look at their shorter Superbowl ad:

Again, spot the beer. You don’t need to, it’s not there. The ad is about a horse and a dog, about being buddies and listening to Passenger. It’s cute as heck but does it sell beer? I guess Bud is too big to care. It only takes one beer brand to buck the trend and tell people why it is amazing, or Czech, or brewed a particular way, or dark, or who knows, just anything. Some kind of reason to believe – anyone?

It’s not just Bud who have dropped the ball. Guinness used to tell us “good things come to those who wait.” Now they show us a bunch of hard up blokes in a remote place getting dressed up for for a night on the beer. While I identify with this, coming from a small village in Cornwall, I’m not sure why they deserve an ad:

Still at least they’re drinking beer. Hats off to them.

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