Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Watered down advertising

While Anheuser-Busch fights charges in state courts across the country that it has been watering down its beer, it's waging a much more important battle in the court of public opinion.

If round one is any indication, they may want to pick a new strategy.

The ad on the right, which appeared this weekend in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle where stories appeared, is, ahem, weak tea.

The visual only reinforces the charges in the suit. Yes, the copy talks about all the water A-B donates to the American Red Cross, but we all know most people don't read the copy. If they do, however, it leaves so many unanswered questions – like why is A-B talking about water? – that people may actually go looking for the story.

Bud shouldn't ignore the story. In fact, on the PR side they're saying the right thing through their VP of brewing and supply: 
"The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world."
It's easy to get too clever in ads like this. Now is not the time for clever. Now is the time to clearly state that nothing is more important to the company than the quality of its products and that you would never do anything to jeopardize that.

Unless, of course, you are.


  1. Unfortunately, the statement from the VP leaves some wiggle room. He never said that the water content of the beer had been increased..."highest quality standards" do not equal "A-B has not altered their recipe in X years and still makes their beer the same as August Busch".

    We all know that Bud tastes like water, so why not embrace it?

    1. You're right, Bob. Weasel words and wiggle room is the domain of lawyers and PR flacks... It'll be interesting to see what comes out and then compare the fallout to what happened (or rather didn't happen) to Maker's Mark.