Drink or Salute? Bud Makes Patriotic Play With Camo Bottles

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Budweiser 'America' and camouflage bottles.
Budweiser 'America' and camouflage bottles. Credit: Anheuser-Busch

Summer is coming -- and so are Budweiser's patriotic beer pitches.

The brew is getting particularly aggressive this year with limited-edition aluminum bottles draped in a camouflage design. The brand is also bringing back its "America" branded bottles and cans that debuted last summer drawing cheers and jeers.

Bud is positioning its camouflage bottles as a tribute to veterans and military personnel. The bottles replace Bud's regular brand credo with what the brand described as a letter of gratitude with language such as, "With every waving flag, with every hand-covered heart, we declare our gratitude." Also included are lyrics from "The Star Spangled Banner," and "E Pluribus Unum."

"Our goal is to remind Budweiser drinkers of the courage and sacrifice made by all American service men and women who protect our nation and our freedoms," Ricardo Marques, VP-Budweiser, said in a statement.

Bud drew plenty of attention last year when it first rolled out the America packaging. Some critics seized on the fact that Bud owner Anheuser-Busch InBev is based in Belgium, not the U.S. But the brand itself has plenty of American credentials: It is brewed here and has long been part of U.S. beer-drinking fabric, even as its volumes have declined in the face of competition from craft beers. Last year's America branding gamble paid off when the brew earned 1 billion earned impressions in the 48 hours following the announcement, the brewer stated at the time.

The attention is key considering that summer is the most important beer-selling season. Sales are 20% higher compared to the rest of the year, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Memorial Day ranks second behind the Fourth of July as the biggest beer holiday, according to the association. Bud is in need of a boost. Brand sales volumes fell "mid-single digits," in the first quarter, according to AB InBev's earnings report.

Separately, the brewer appears poised to roll out packaging highlighting the names of states where it is brewed. The brewer has sought and gained regulatory approval for individual labels carrying names including New York, Missouri, Ohio, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida and Texas.

Each state label carries a unique saying, such as "live free or die" for New Hampshire, according to filings with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. An AB InBev spokeswoman declined to comment on the state labels. But a new TV ad carries a similar theme with scenes of Budweiser breweries in locations including St. Louis, Houston, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and California. The ad is by VaynerMedia.

The approach seems to be an attempt to remind drinkers that Bud has local credentials in an age when craft brewers often get more attention for being locally brewed.

The camo bottles will be on sale through July 4 , while the America packaging will be on shelves through Labor Day. For every Budweiser "America" bottle and can sold from May 22-29, Bud plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to Folds of Honor. The organization provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled in combat. The total donation is capped at $1 million.

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