To cleanse the palate, they’re taking a risk by renaming a brand that’s universally known, even temporarily, but I think the risk is small. We all know what the can design looks like; you could rename the beer “Farts” and people will still know a Bud when they see one. Come to think of it, “Farts” beer would be an interesting bit of stunt rebranding in its own right. You’d buy it, wondering how it might taste, and then … nope, it’s still just Bud. If you’ve ever had one, and we’ve all had one, you know that not even Trump can make this “America” great.
Speaking of which, I wonder if the harsh reality of a tire-fire election between Hillary Clinton and you-know-who will inspire a patriotic backlash among the public. The more you’re forced to confront the fact that our country is palpably in decline, the more some will resist by retreating into star-spangled kitsch. Budweiser could be getting in on the ground floor of something good here. Even if I’m wrong, there are plenty of irony-drenched chumps out there who’ll appreciate a major corporation being so desperate to monetize patriotism that they’d literally rename their product “America.” It’d be a fine choice of beverage for Bernie fans to get sh*tfaced on the night Hillary accepts the nomination in Philly.
The alterations don’t stop with the beer’s name. Almost every bit of type on the Budweiser label has been scrubbed away by Easter Egg patriotism, with new text citing the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful—all rendered in newly developed hand lettering, inspired by Budweiser’s archives.
To name just a few of the updates: “King of Beers” has been changed to “E Pluribus Unum,” “The World Renowned” changed to “Land of the Free,” and “Anheuser-Busch, Inc.” updated to read “Liberty & Justice For All.” Even legalese like “Trademark” was changed to “Indivisible,” and “Registered” changed to “Since 1776” (you know, the year America was founded—even though, technically, Budweiser wouldn’t be available for another 100 years)…
Whether the can can be consumed sincerely or ironically is paramount to its success, not as a commercial product (because a lot of people would buy a 12-pack entirely for the joke of it), but as a piece of branding in Budweiser’s patriotically brewed empire. The tagline for the entire related media campaign is meant to be incredibly sincere, even inspiring message: “America is in your hands.” When I ask Marques, jokingly, if drinking Budweiser now means you’re drinking America, his reply is dead serious. “In a way, it is true,” he says. “If you think about Budweiser as the most iconic American brand when it comes to beer, it’s probably not incorrect.”
Bud is brewed in the U.S. but owned by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate, which seems not ideal for the new, more protectionist America. Maybe skip the stunt beer and buy Sam Adams instead.
If you must have Anheuser-Busch, though, here’s a recommendation: Try the Best Damn Cherry Cola or Best Damn Root Beer stuff they just rolled out a few months ago. I wouldn’t call it “good” but it really does taste exactly like cherry cola and root beer. Let me emphasize: Exactly. To the point where, between the taste and total lack of buzz (it’s supposedly 5.5 percent ABV, which is slightly higher than Bud), I came away convinced that I really was just drinking cherry cola and root beer that had been falsely marketed as beer. Terrific gateway product for young teens interested in the real stuff, though!