This may be the most presumptuous branding move in the beer industry since they coined the name, “King of Beers” … or it could be one of the most shrewd and audacious marketing moves of the decade. Recently, Budweiser announced, at least for the summer, it would be renaming its signature beer “America” for the duration of the season. No news yet on whether or not there will be an “America Lite”.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Budweiser, is, as has been widely reported, no longer an American company, as it is headquartered in Belgium. So, is it pandering or genius … or will any Bud fans care? The jury’s out on that one, but you can bet the announcement created a massive amount of earned media for the brand.
Along with the name change, the company has petitioned the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau if it could also include country music worthy phrases such as “Land of the Free” and “Liberty and Justice for All.” Also, “Home of the Brave” and the play on actual song lyrics: “From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream.”
Whether or not this request is granted, one thing is clear. Anheuser-Busch InBev has doubled down on reaffirming its status as the signature all-American beverage. This title was in doubt in the years after InBev bought the brand. It rankled many of Bud’s top customers to know “their” beer was now owned by a foreign company.
Anticipating blowback, Budweiser strived to hold onto its all-American branding, investing fully in tropes and imagery that had defined the brand for decades, visions almost as American as apple pie. Meanwhile, a second ad stream fired back at the growing microbrew movement, stating that Budweiser was a big batch brewer and proud of it.
And, speaking of doubling down, the next phase of this rebranding campaign gets even more “patriotic.” As a sponsor of the Olympic Games, Budweiser plans to release a campaign featuring Olympic athletes branded “Team Budweiser” beginning next month.
How will red, white and blue Bud fans react to the obvious pandering? InBev hopes they just shrug and reach for another beer.