Has Advertising Given Beer a Bad Name?

Even as sales of craft beer continue to climb by double digits, overall sales of beer are down 1% by volume this year.  It’s the big boys who are shouldering the brunt of the burden, and they are starting to make some splashy moves to stem their losses.

Take a look at Bud Light.  Advertising is important to them, as they spent over a quarter of a billion dollars on marketing their swill last year.  As their sales continue to slowly dwindle, they’ve decided to can their ad agency of more than 30 years.  DDB, who brought us gems like “wasssaaaap?!” and “Real Men of Genius” has been shown the door, and the hunt is on for a new group of jackals to trick gullible consumers into purchasing an inferior product.

Because everyone knows that advertising is what sells beer.  Or is it?  The truth is, the way beer is marketed might have created the stigma that it’s a drink for frat boys and meatheads.  Advertising could be hurting beer sales, not helping them.

Colin Joliat over at Guyism breaks it down:

…the real culprit here is men, specifically those between 18-34. In the span of one year, the percentage that say they prefer beer over wine or liquor dropped from 51% to 39%. What did beer ever do to you?  Wine gained a little steam within that demographic, but the real winner was liquor. This could be due to a number of options. The popularity of cocktail bars has grown significantly in the past year. The number of craft distilleries is also rapidly increasing, leading to more grass roots campaigns promoting local liquors. I think the real cause may simply be a negative image associated with beer drinkers, causing them to respond with something they deem more high-culture. Picture introducing yourself to woman in the checkout line. Would you rather be buying a bottle of scotch or a 12 pack of Bud Light?

Alcohol is an image product for many young men and women who drink socially, and beer’s frat-boy-friendly portrayal might be a little too lowbrow for the changing times.  The big brewers have spent billions of dollars cultivating this image, and it’s not one that will disappear overnight.  The rise in popularity of craft offerings will help change people’s’ perception of beer, but as craft brews account for less than 5% of sales, I think it’ll take a while for it to make a real difference.

I know Don will try to take credit for the shift from beer to booze as the “whiskey brother,” but I’d suspect his endorsement of distilled products has actually slowed this defection.  🙂





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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, News


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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9 Comments on “Has Advertising Given Beer a Bad Name?”

  1. October 13, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    So, let me get this right….you’re trying to tell us that the new booze-buying demographic acts/looks more like you than me or Don? Huh? Is that what you’re saying?

    Boy are you in trouble now!

    • Don
      October 13, 2011 at 11:14 am #

      Good point Wayne. I think…

    • October 13, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      Not sure I was saying that!

  2. Don
    October 13, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I think it is because Bob Ueker no longer does beer commercials 😉

    • October 13, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      I can get on board with that…

  3. October 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    The main message I get from Bud Light commercials is that girlfriends/wives will do everything they can to prevent men from drinking Bud Light with their buddies. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  4. Amanda
    October 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I think it’s because all the meatheads started adding alcohol to their energy drinks.

  5. FatCatKC
    October 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    I think the big beer advertising is bad for beer in general. I think I commented on this in one of your previous post about how people think Big Beer is the ONLY beer there is. My first beer ever was a macro and it was horrible. After that I made the generalization that I did not like beer at all. Luckily Sam Adams was my saving grace and roped me into this crazy craft stuff. For many I would think it could stop right at the first macro lager and they would assume they don’t like beer. Most of my family is this way. “I don’t like beer.” What have you tried? “All of it, Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors, it all tastes like piss water.” I can agree with you on that but there are over 80 different styles of beer. Then I get a long pause and “I just don’t like beer”.

    Plus I think people or more frugal these days. They are willing to “invest” in a bottle of wine for their homemade dinner as opposed to buying everyday beer. And a $10.00 half gallon of crappy vodka mixed with anything will go a lot further than a six pack.

  6. October 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Over the top advertising has given bad beer a bad name. The rest of us know what we like and are more than willing to try new things.

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