Why the Budweiser Superbowl Ad has nothing to do with beer

Budweiser’s grand diffusion is that their anti-craft beer commercial is actually about beer. When it’s really about separating people.

There’s something funny about drinking beer at BJ’s Brewhouse in Reno, a small city with 11 craft breweries and higher craft beer sales than the national average, and suddenly seeing Budweiser’s Superbowl commercial on TV. It’s like watching a cigarette commercial during Saturday morning cartoons.

Make no mistake, Budweiser’s commercial is all about dividing people, making Bud drinkers feel smart and affirming a loyal demographic. The result of the commercial is many battles about the flavor of Budweiser vs. craft beer, ingredients, macro vs. micro and blah blah blah beer snobs are assholes and Budweiser drinkers are stupid. And while craft beer drinkers sit around fussy and being butt hurt, Budweiser drinkers feel justified in their loyal imbibing because of all the outrage. Mission accomplished.

What’s easy to miss is that Budweiser drinkers should also be insulted, because the commercial is trying to make you feel dumb for thinking about beer as more complex than soda or water. Budweiser is yelling “CRAFT BEER DRINKERS ARE PUSSIES!”  The argument to Budweiser drinkers is that Bud is just as cool as all those craft beers your friends keep raving about. So why try them? You don’t need to. You’re simple. You don’t need to make decisions about what you put in your mouth because life is already complicated. So shut up and grab a Bud, because bud is reliable and uncomplicated.

But there’s really a deeper cultural conversation about the nature of beer in America here. It pits the old (older than 33) against the young fussy Millennials. It argues for a prohibition-era acceptance of big business and against the young post-recession upstarts (startups?).

Surely, some brewers even consider their job creating a form of drinkable art. Like chefs or painters, a brewer can decide what type of art they want to make. Is it pop art (Budweiser)? Is it abstract (Elysian’s Pumpkin Peach Ale)? Renaissance (Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Ale)?

The same way two people look at a building and one says “that is art” and the other says “it’s just a building,” Budweiser simultaneously argues that beer is and is not art. And both people would be right. But just because you don’t think it’s art doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate what it is to you.

What many of us forget is that liking craft beer doesn’t mean you like all craft beer. And liking Budweiser doesn’t mean you hate craft beer. The commercial plays off this stereotype and sparks a previously non-existent war between a non-existent dichotomy of America’s beer drinkers: those who fuss of over art and those who only like simple art.

So don’t let Budweiser tell you what is art and what beer is good. Head down to your local tap house, brewpub, bar or brewery and make the decision for yourself.

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.