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My favorite topic; beer advertising!

This should be a time for celebrating the holiday season in a personal message from me to you….and, trust me, we’ll get there eventually. What I wanted to talk about first, though, was an interesting twist on big-time beer advertising.

I was recently in Asheville, North Carolina with my brothers and sisters-in-law to visit the Biltmore mansion. The place was all dressed in its Christmas finery and is really quite spectacular. I highly recommend a visit if you like that sort of American excess that late-19th century billionaires are known for.

As my brother, Rich, and I are known to do, on occasion, we went looking for an adult beverage store to quench our thirsts. (Realize that there are some arcane state-specific regulations when it comes to the buying and selling of alcoholic beverages. Some states still don’t allow Sunday sales. Others make you join a pseudo, state-run private club before you can buy. Still others segregate beer & wine from hard liquor into separate stores that, usually, are nowhere near each other. North Carolina or at least, the county around Asheville falls into this last category.)

Luckily, there was a beer and wine store within walking distance.

We walked in and, lo and behold, nearly every kind of craft beer and micro-brew was represented. There were 8 taps of exquisitely-named draft beer you could try. There were wines from all over the world. It was a magical place.

However, we weren’t in the mood for a fruity, hoppy or wheat-y beer. I just wanted a ‘palate-cleanser.’ You know, 12 ounces of mass-produced golden deliciousness. Though I searched high and low, I couldn’t find any familiar names. So I walked up to the gentleman behind the counter and asked, “Where can I find a Budweiser or a Miller lite?” He responded - not meanly or snarkily by the way – “Oh….I don’t think we have anything like that in here. But if you go down to the Shell station on the corner, I think they may have some.”

I hurried up and bought something for $8 a six-pack and skulked out of the store. In this age of beer-snobbery, I had been labeled as a “gas station beer drinker.” Luckily I don’t care.

But it made me think about recent mega-brewer advertising campaigns and how things have shifted. In the recent past, beer, no matter who made it, would try to cast itself in a unique light. The “Champagne of Bottled Beer”, “Tastes great, less filling”, “The King of Beers”, “Brewed with pure Rocky Mountain Spring water.” You get the idea.Dilly Dilly!

Now, think of Budweiser’s most recent campaign…the medieval “dilly-dilly” ads that make fun of craft and micro brews. “Oh you must try this mead. It has a hoppy nose and an oblique finish.” The gist of the campaign is to warn us not to be sucked into this craft beer craze….good old fashioned, mass-produced beer is what EVERYBODY likes. So conform or you’ll be thrown into the pit of despair. Or something like that.

The new slogan is : “Bud Light. For the many, not the few.”

I have to give a nod to the Bud Light advertising crew. After years of trying to join the craft brew craze by purchasing the competition (think Goose Island) or with line extensions like Shocktop, Bud Light has come right out and said it: “We know you had to experiment. We all go through a phase like that. But it’s time to come home now to a reasonably-priced, bland-tasting adult beverage that you can buy everywhere.” Especially in gas stations.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Dilly Dilly!

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