As craft beer complicates Budweiser’s business, the beer brand is doubling down on the defensive.
This Super Bowl, Budweiser is airing an ad that pokes fun at craft brewers, saying the beer is “not small,” “not sipped,” and “not a hobby.”
In style and tone, the ad is a clear follow-up to the brand’s controversial 2015 Super Bowl commercial that mocked craft beer.
You can watch this year’s spot here:
Last year’s spot inspired outrage, and people erupted in fury on social media.
“Social media exploded and, candidly, a lot of the sentiment was negative,” Budweiser Vice President Brian Perkins told Business Insider. “We found out that most of the social sentiment was being driven by an extremely small number of human beings … At the same time, we were polling regular beer drinkers, and that data was coming back really positive.”
According to Perkins, most consumers responded well to last year’s “bold, confident tone.” The video, below, has over 13 million views on YouTube.
“It kicked off a year where we really messaged that kind of spirit very consistently,” says Perkins. “Then, we delivered the best commercial trends on the brand in 14 years.”
Here are some of the negative comments Budweiser faced on social media:
Is Budweiser gonna slam craft beers in its SB50 commercial again while Anheuser-Busch simultaneously buys all those craft breweries?
— Hunter Poole (@HunnerPoole) February 4, 2016
Budweiser has been losing ground in recent years, as the growth of craft beer has cut into the iconic brand’s sales.
Budweiser’s parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired a number of craft beer companies recently, including Arizona’s Four Peaks Brewing Company, the UK’s Camden Town Brewery and Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery in December alone.
While AB InBev is learning from craft beer marketing, perhaps the lesson it is applying to Budweiser is to embrace what makes the brand unique — even if that’s what separates the beer from craft brewers.
“Whether [consumers] agree or not… I think people give you kudos,” says Perkins.
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