When InBev bought iconic American beer brand Budweiser, some said it was the death of the American beer culture. Naysayers and doomspeakers tut-tutted and shook their fists, but Bud drinkers just kept on drinking Bud, hardly noticing the change. Now, though, it seems they will.
For the 13th time in the brand’s 140-year history, Budweiser is getting a complete makeover. And get this, it will be the first time the Bud look will be the same across the globe. No more pandering to this audience or that one. This Bud is for everyone, take it or leave it.
What’s different? Well, everything except what’s in the bottle. The package is a quantum leap forward, echoing recent trends in soft drink bottling and trendsetting beer brand Coors. Even the logo and instantly recognizable typeset are entirely updated. The final look, which the Bud folks have been tweaking since last summer, downplays the iconic Budweiser bowtie, focusing instead on the Bud crest and new font.
According to a recent piece in AdWeek, the brand is making this massive change, in part, as a response to the growing threat of the microbrew movement. Bud has long been pegged in the market as the easy-drinking choice of most Americans, and it has always been the brand beer snobs and microbrew fans tended to openly despise the most. Even the hipsters ironic taste for PBR didn’t carry the same disdain that Beer Drinkers had for Budweiser.
Now Bud is fighting back with brand positioning statements like “Brewed the hard way”, a clear allusion to quality over quantity. The passive reply to microbrew-loving critics of Big Beer may not land, but Bud PR people are hoping to grab some of the attention a quickly segmenting market has stolen. So you get Budweiser execs telling AdWeek their old logo didn’t accurately convey the correct level of effort or attention to detail. Basically, they’re saying, we work WAAAAY harder than this looks like we do.
It’s a weird idea, but that shows just how much of a threat the microbrew movement is to big batch beer. More folks are opting for smaller batches and their attendant variety, leaving bigger brands doing anything they can think of to look like they care as much as the little guys. Maybe they do … but, at this point, regardless of what’s on the outside, the consumers will decide.