Budweiser Super Bowl ad kicks craft beer in the nuts; will Asheville aka Beer City USA respond?

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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bud_ad_3_2015Sunday night’s Budweiser commercial took direct aim at the booming craft brewing industry. In not-so-subtle fashion, it mocked mustachioed fans of specialty beers  who “fuss over” taste. “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale,” the ad smirked. At the same time, the ad hammered home Budweiser’s working-man appeal amid galloping Clydesdales and axes chopping beechwood. Budweiser is the beer for people who like drinking beer, the ad proclaimed.

The multimillion-dollar ad takes direct aim at an industry that’s slowly put Asheville on the map over the past 20 years since Highland Brewing started making its beer. It’s an industry that’s steadily been chipping away at the market share of the big beer makers like Budweiser. From the Wall Street Journal in July 2014:

Craft beer makers have experienced huge jumps in market share while the overall beer market size has shrunk. The Census Bureau announced yesterday that the number of breweries in the in the U.S. doubled in five years–an increase largely due to craft beer. On average over the past two years, 1.2 craft breweries opened each day, contributing to a total of 15.6 million barrels of beer last year.

While that’s only 7.8% of the U.S. beer market share, according to data Brewers Association, an American craft beer trade group, craft beer is taking an ever-increasing chunk out of noncraft beer companies’ sales. The number of liters of beer purchased per year has stayed the same and is expected to shrink slightly, according to data from research firm Euromonitor. Meanwhile the population has risen. That means people on average are consuming less beer and, if they’re consuming beer, it’s more and more likely to be craft.

The most immediate reaction from craft beer lovers to the Budweiser ad has been: wow, Budweiser must be scared. Really scared. It’s easy to poke fun and hipsters, and Budweiser has most certainly lost money to the craft beer industry.

The ad won’t help Budweiser woo new fans. It just solidifies the positions between the craft beer lovers and the non-craft beer lovers, although personally, I think that’s a false dichotomy. I love my locally made craft beer. I also have no problem knocking back my fair share of big-beer products.

The best response for Asheville breweries will simply be to keep cranking out top-notch beer. Drinkers will keep voting with their dollars.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Sean February 2, 2015

    I think that it was a great ad. Say what you will about the company’s corporate intentions, watch the convenience stores in rural areas for a few days and see what outsells everything else. They are speaking to their core customer with this commercial, and I’m sure that those folks popped a Bud in response.

    1. JTROOP February 2, 2015

      Exactly! Good marketing doesn’t have to be true to be successful….

  2. Mike February 2, 2015

    this is more the brand and specific beer “budweiser’ going after the craft beers, becuase it is not one, rather than the company going after it. My point is that, the Company owns, or has a stake in, many craft breweries. They even own a craft brewery that makes a pumpkin peach beer, that’s irony.

    Anyway, the bigger threat, or show for concern, from these ‘macro breweries’ is legislation they’re pushing in states like Florida, where they are trying to make it illegal for breweries to have tasting rooms. That would kill pretty much every craft brewery in Florida overnight. That is a big issue! – watch for some sneaky legislation where they start spending their lobbying money and find some ultra – conservative state congressman to sponsor it.

    1. luther blissett February 2, 2015

      And Budweiser of Asheville (in Fletcher) has played an important role in getting local beer distributed.

      1. Coke never mentions Pepsi.
      2. Beerspotter faddishness and oneupmanship is a real thing.
      3. The overall trend in S*p*r B*wl ads was retro “authenticity”: Dads In Trucks, etc. Gas prices must really be low.

  3. WNCRod February 2, 2015

    This from the company– Anheuser-Busch–that brings you such products as Wild Blue (a specialty fruit-infused lager) and that purchased Chicago-based craft brewery Goose Island in 2011.

    1. Barry Summers February 2, 2015

      I did a mural on the side of Goose Island brewery when I was a Chicago art student in 1990. They paid me in part with a bar tab, which I never completely used up… I wonder what it’s worth now?

  4. Enough February 2, 2015

    Is it not time to retire the “Beer City” moniker? We did end up giving up the title to Grand Rapids in the last poll which Charlie Papazian then retired because it was fun while it lasted but represented no actual fact other than we are able to follow click bait and vote for ourselves . We did get a nice boost in our “wins” but it’s a bit hokey and frankly it’s tired. We will hopefully continue to have a great deal of beer tourism here as our star does not seem to be fading on that front, but to continue to boast the title is childish. Let’s just be happy that we are ASHEVILLE and we are proud of what we have here. No crowns or best of lists needed.

  5. Barry Summers February 2, 2015

    “will Asheville aka Beer City USA respond?”

    Yeah, there’s a good use of your time.

    IMO, responding only gives more advertising for Budweiser, which is what they want. Screw ’em.

  6. EJ February 2, 2015

    Better yet, please explain this?
    Budweiser = Bad, PBR = Good

    1. Sean February 2, 2015

      Who said pbr was good?

    2. Barry Summers February 2, 2015

      Very simple: product placement.

      bit.ly/S7kDLe (drag & drop)

  7. Mike February 2, 2015

    I say it’s proof that they are scared. They have steadily been losing market share (granted only single digits) to craft beer for a long while now.

  8. weaves February 2, 2015

    grasping at straws…..

  9. Sea February 2, 2015

    It’s really up to ab to respond they can adapt or be marginalised.

    1. Doc February 2, 2015

      Thinking the company that produces Budweiser and also maintains a 25% global marketshare isn;t worried about being marginalized.

      If anything…craft brewers should pay more attention to how many little breweries are being bought by InBev.

      There used to be trolleys and rail cars in every medium to large city in the US…including this one….until a holding company called National City Lines started buying them and running them into the ground.


    2. Doc February 4, 2015

      If you follow the actions of AB and their parent company InBev I think you will note that they are responding by buying craft breweries. That is how they are adapting.

      While AB’s market share might be diminishing, though nowhere near marginalization, in the US. The global reach of InBev is on the rise.


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