In this year's Super Bowl, A-B InBev launched an ad campaign for Budweiser called "Brewed the Hard Way." The marketing people behind it will tell you the ad was meant to celebrate Bud as a macrobrew, but it also sent craft-beer fans crying into their over-hopped beer.
Now Budweiser is back with something called "This Bud's for Brooklyn." As you may know, Brooklyn was once Mecca for hipsterdom. Sure, many "real" hipsters now consider it, ya know, kinda sorta played out? Because, like, it's so expensive and there's too many people with money and families and stuff? And The New York Times writes about it?
But there are still plenty of people with facial hair and puffy coats and Warby Parker frames drinking artisanal bourbons and swishing seasonal craft brews, both of which are expensive and both of which demand rationalizations that make it sound like the product is not drunk juice but rather high art.
And these people -- well, the ones carefully selected for the purposes of this interview for Bud -- were totally tricked into thinking Budweiser was some sort of new craft brew. Sure, the bartender sort of led them to it, telling them it was from a 139-year-old recipe and "aged in Beechwood." Call it the art of suggestion.
Spoiler alert: They loved it! I don't know if my favorite response is "It's a reliable beer" or "This would be great on like a hundred degree day."
Of course, this isn't something unique to hipsters or Brooklyn or beer. Blind taste tests are known for making people look like fools (or, in marketing speak, question their preconceived notions about a product). Remember Folgers Crystals? And blind taste tests with alcohol are even better, especially when it comes to wine or "premium" vodka.
And is this really a victory for Budweiser? After all, Brooklyn hipsters were the ones who put Pabst (Motto: "What else are you going to drink at this price point?") back on the map.
But, hey, you can't get any more normcore than Budweiser, right?
Ken Wheaton, the managing editor of Advertising Age, writes our Last Word column. His latest novel, "Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears," was published in 2014.