True or not, that tale was repeated so often it became legend. The message? Budweiser distributors were expected to enforce the brewery's will at retail.
That wisdom lives on today. Want your sales organization to "own the retail floor?" Show them how one clever sales guy found a way to get an orange VW Beetle into a beer aisle, outfit it with a "ShockTop," stack beer all around it, and stop customers in their tracks. Then celebrate the achievement, and spread the word far and wide: "This is salesmanship! This is what we expect from the rest of you."
But what good leader would actually celebrate failure, as though it were somehow commendable, something to be aimed for?
On the only measure that matters-- sales results-- this year's "Budweiser Puppy" SuperBowl ad was an abject failure. We said so at the time. While the commercial was well-liked and prompted all sorts of press coverage and social-media buzz, research showed it had no effect on purchase interest for Budweiser. Sales since have borne that out, continuing to decline without even a brief respite. Who would tell their organization to shoot for that kind of advertising?
Nominations for two Emmy awards in hand, the top brass at Anheuser-Busch approved this press release and splashed it on the Budweiser website. The unavoidable message to the organization: This is the kind of advertising we want for Budweiser.
Why, entertainment, of course! Entertainment is what the Emmys are all about. Sales results have no place whatsoever in the Emmy considerations. Sadly, many advertising-industry awards are no better. They, too, celebrate entertaining commercials that completely fail as advertising. Could it be that entertainment is just easier than selling?
"Wanna see my Emmy?"
Maybe it's too much to ask that a brewery CEO not get all starry-eyed at the thought of being some kind of Hollywood player. Maybe he's so desperate for any bit of good news, he's giving no thought to the example he's setting for the organization. Who knows? Maybe the Anheuser-Busch corporate leaders actually think they are in the entertainment business!
Somewhere in the organization-- one can only hope-- there remain folks who know exactly what business they're in.