When the branding gets tough: Budweiser’s “America”


Bold move or can of worms?

Apparently this Bud’s for you, and Lady Liberty as well. In a brand switcheroo that debuted Monday, Anheuser-Busch is temporarily wrapping their venerable beer in the stars and stripes and re-naming it “America” for the hops-guzzling summer season. Advertising and marketing watchers are now on high alert: who will be next to enact an all-encompassing name change? Is it the Caitlyn factor?

Not only is the major name “Budweiser” being superseded by the infinitely more upscale “America” but “the King of Beers” has been replaced by “E Pluribus Unum.” The currency of suds, or so it seems.  The founding fathers are likely spinning somewhere. Or maybe giving up and swigging ale.


The irony is that Bud is no longer an American beer. Anheuser-Busch was bought in 2008 by a Belgian beverage outfit. So it’s a bit of a snarky move.

The concept is not altogether nutty. Bud has been a major sponsor behind the Made in America concerts, and is one of only a handful of the big beers that is actually still made here. In the past, they’ve sprinkled the stars and stripes over their bottles and cans, with little outcry.

And as Ad Age reports, this summer offers a lot in terms of patriotic opportunities: the Fourth of July, the Olympics, the Copa America soccer tournament. And a little thing called an American Presidential Election’s conventions—where plenty of fireworks can be expected, if not beer consumption as well.

Tell all that to the haters online, who represent the corporate-drubbing doubters, sick to their livers by what they see as profiteering off their beloved ‘Murica’.

So, let’s assume this works. As marketers and direct marketers, what else can we expect in terms of brands looking to catch a buzz off a larger, more universal theme? Will soft drinks reinvent themselves as “Euphoria?” The Mini Cooper rebranded as “Britain?”

America has always been both a place and an idea.  Even Bono acknowledges this: “America is ‘an idea.’ That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history.” Freedom, equality, the pursuit of happiness…all indelible human rights, and yet often hard to attain.

So it’s less a flag-wrap perhaps than a concept co-opting, right? After all, drinking beer is a freedom (if you’re over 21), it’s available to everyone regardless of age, race, creed, orientation, gender, you name it…and it does make a person “happy.”

Perhaps the timing is right to take back our rightful ownership of a major populist American beverage, and shut down the borders to feckless foreign hops, if only for a few months.

This could be U-U-U-U-GE.

Direct Choice Inc. is a full-service direct marketing agency that has worked with national and regional brands in a wide variety of vertical markets. In addition to this blog, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn


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