So, in the spirit of boundless giving for which I’m so well-known, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice to Big Beer when they’re trying to figure out their next “killer” ad campaign.
Here’s the deal Big Beer. Recently you’ve produced a spate of commercials which make fun of girly-men and wusses for not caring what their beer tastes like. You’ve also released a mind-numbing amount of ads mocking men for daring to drink a beer with triple-digit calories (the horror!). These spots are aimed at the competition, of course…but Big Beer doesn’t seem to realize who their true competition is these days. The macros are still living in the past when their only rivals were each other. The current crop of ads are based on Miller having a more “flavorful” light beer than Bud…or Bud having a 55-calorie brew to counter Miller’s obesity-causing 64-calorie option. The problem is…no one really sees a difference between Bud, Miller and Coors anymore. They’re practically interchangeable at this point. Ask most Aleheads what the differences between the Big Three are and they’d probably say, “Umm…well…Miller has the vortex bottle. Coors has the cold-activated can. And Bud is an evil corporation that murders puppies and infants just for fun.”*
See, the issue is that the “real” enemy of Big Beer isn’t each other anymore…it’s craft beer. It’s beer with flavor, aroma, and body. It’s beer that tastes like someone actually put some effort into creating it. The reason Big Beer’s sales have been flat or declining over the past few years isn’t because people are turning to vodka, wine, or huffing paint thinner…it’s because craft beer is having a renaissance and making people realize that adjunct lagers taste like a bottle of wet nothing.
Well, I’m here to help, Big Beer. I’m here to tell you what your next ad campaign should…nay…MUST be. I’ve got three words for you (well, abbreviations, actually): Mac vs. PC.
You’ve all seen the popular “Get a Mac” commercials where that jackass from Dodgeball plays the “cool” Mac guy to John Hodgman’s “nerdy” PC. If you ignore the fact that Hodgman is far funnier and more talented than Justin Long in both the commercials and in their professional careers, it’s still obvious that the Apple marketing department did a virtuoso job with these spots. PCs were portrayed as stodgy, buggy, boring, glorified adding machines while Macs were cool, hip, awesome-producing wonderboxes. I don’t even like Apple products and I still found myself looking at my drab PC and thinking, “When did I become a sad, boring, old man?”*
*Answer: I was born that way.
Big Beer needs to take a page out of the Mac book (Note: Don’t try to take a page out of an actual MacBook…you’ll break it). They need to paint craft beer fans as complete and utter John Hodgmans. Picture a white background with two dudes facing the camera. The guy on the left is Big Beer…he’s played by Ryan Reynolds. The guy on the left is Craft Beer…he’s played by Steve Buscemi. Buscemi starts prattling on about the hop varietals in the aroma of his Triple IPA and the Belgian yeast strain used in his bourbon-aged Quad. Reynolds just looks at him and says, “Hey dork…I don’t care about any of that. I’m an American man. I just like a cold beer on a hot day at the ballpark.” Then a gaggle of gorgeous women swarm him while Buscemi sits by himself trying to wrestle the wax top off a bottle of Three Floyds Dark Lord with his weak, scrawny, pale hands.
It’s a game-changer, Big Beer, I’m telling you! Stop trying to paint your products as more “flavorful” than other beers or as “triple hops brewed” or “cold as the Rockies”. You’ve already got a winning message! You’re the beer for people who don’t like to “think” or “taste” or “experience enjoyable things”. It’s kind of like the way old-timers mock the statistical revolution in baseball. They don’t understand it, so they claim that anyone who likes baseball stats is a pasty, glasses-sporting nerd who lives in his Mom’s basement and spends 18 hours a day on the computer. THAT’S the way you should be portraying craft beer fans! Make us out to be complete tools who only care about IBUs, rarity, and the aroma of horseblanket. Throw our jargon and obsessions back in our face. It’ll work! Portray Big Beer drinkers as care-free, fun-loving party-guys and craft beer drinkers as friendless, creepy loners. In a few months, craft’s sales will decline and Big Beer execs can stop their worrying. You’re welcome!
Why am I offering free advice to the enemy? Simple. I’m beating them to the punch. You KNOW this ad campaign is coming soon. The warning signs are all here. Big Beer is trying to block craft-friendly legislation all throughout the US. They’ve even started buying up some craft brewers (fare thee well, Goose Island) in the hopes of taking advantage of the remarkable growth in the industry. When these attempts fail, they’ll stop the backroom attacks and hit the airwaves. They’ll do what they do best and ramp up the marketing machine. And I can almost guarantee that some sort of Big Beer vs. Craft campaign will be on your television screens in the all-too-foreseeable future. It’s as inevitable as Budweiser continuing to taste like hobo-urine.
I’m trying to nip any such campaign in the Bud (get it!), right now. The next time some Madison Avenue ad-house exec starts pitching ideas to help Big Beer’s slumping sales, I’m hoping they’ll come across this post, say “Well we can’t do that…the craft beer drinkers are expecting it!”…and then move on to some campaign involving talking giraffes or a loathsome catchphrase that annoys the shit out of everyone.
After all, a Big Beer vs. Craft campaign couldn’t possibly be cool. Why not? Because I thought of it. And I’m a craft beer drinker.