Last week the Brewers Association (BA), a trade group that represents independent breweries in the US, released a video encouraging members to add a logo to their packaging to let customers know that the beer was brewed by an independent brewery. The creation of this logo was in response to the growing number of craft brewery acquisitions by Anheuser Busch – InBev (ABI) and others in recent years. Consumers often can’t be sure if they are buying from a “craft” brewer or from a multinational company, because these parent companies don’t list their ownership anywhere on the package. The average consumer isn’t necessarily all up to date on who owns who, so adding this logo works as a visual aid to those who would prefer to support independent producers. The video is a minute long, of middling production quality, and seems to have been made as a friendly “Here’s that new logo if you want to use it” type of message. Here’s that video, below.
In response, ABI released this video. In it, brewery representatives (I’d call them owners, but ABI owns their breweries) attack the new Brewer’s Association logo as an affront to consumers. One owner suggests that the BA is trying to limit consumer choice by asking breweries to put this logo on their packaging. Another snarkily adds that true “indie” brewers shouldn’t put something like that on their packages because it’s giving in to the man, in some way. Another puts up the straw man argument that breweries should be working together, regardless of their ownership, to promote beer because wine and spirits are the real enemy threatening the industry. Every interview seems angry, especially in the incredibly crisp 4k video in which the spot was shot. Here’s a link to that video as well.
After watching both, my question is why did ABI feel the need to respond? By making this negative piece on the new BA logo, what are they hoping to accomplish? None of the breweries represented in the video come out looking like anything more than punks who repeatedly suggest that independent breweries make inferior beer to the ABI owned producers. Did ABI hope to attract new customers with this ad? Did they hope to make consumers feel bad about wanting to support independent breweries? Who was the target audience?
The video reminded me of the Super Bowl ad a couple of years ago where ABI made fun of craft consumers for being a bunch of losers who sit around and sniff peach pumpkin beers. The ad talked about macro beer being brewed “the hard way,” apparently in contrast to how smaller brewers produce their products. At the time, my question was the same. Who were they trying to convince? Bud drinkers who were considering craft products likely wouldn’t be shamed into brand loyalty after watching the video. Craft consumers probably wouldn’t have watched it and said, “Hey, they’re right. I am a loser. I should drink more Bud Light.” It seemed to be negative solely for the sake of being negative. This video has the same feel.
Giving consumers the information they want to make an informed decision is not limiting choice in any way. Consumers who like beer produced by ABI owned breweries will continue to buy that beer, and that’s fine. By allowing consumers to more easily know who the true owners are, the BA is providing the same type of labeling as a non-GMO sticker on a food package. Those who care about it have the information… that’s all. In making this video, ABI brewers came out looking angry and aggressive. I don’t think anyone was moved in a positive way. Some advice for ABI… Sometimes saying nothing is the best response.
What did you think of the videos? Let me know in the comments below.