First came broad general news coverage (always with a photo included) of Budweiser's "America" can set to appear in market in time for the Fourth of July, and run through election day. That unleashed a torrent of response from all manner of beer aficiandos--mostly of the craft-leaning variety--slamming Anheuser-Busch. Whines included the lament that ABI is a conglomerate with roots in Belgium and Brazil, so it's really not American. Some marketing experts lamented that changing the labels would risk blurring the brand's identity. Others thought it was too obvious a play on patriotism.
Initially, we were inclined to let the announcement of a promotional package pass without weighing in. But we were asked for our opinion by so many of our followers, we're reversing course.
In our view, the can's a solid promotional idea. It takes advantage of the brand's indisputable American roots and history, and adds a dash of short-term excitement. Which is exactly what good marketing promotions do. On this measure, these cans have been a whopping success already. Craft-centric critics will hammer Budweiser for any cleverness on its part. Arguably, the better Bud's idea, the louder the lamenting. The rapid slowing of the craft-beer category--up just 2% for the most recent 4-week period, with seven of their top-10 brands declining--may have the craft guys looking for windmills at which to tilt.
If, as we suspect, the America cans are "seeded" (maybe 1-4) into regular cases and 12-packs, loyal drinkers of the King of Beers will delight in discovering they've just popped the top on one of the patriotic cans. A touch of joy and a heightened interaction with Budweiser's relatively new graphics that can only be good for the brand. Suggestions of "blurring the brand image" with this move are pure nonsense, possibly motivated by envy for the only brand that could pull it off. And as to patriotism, it's been a common enough theme in the beer business for years.