How a brewer chooses to seek innovation tells you a lot about what motives them.
If you had any question as to where Budweiser’s priorities lie, look no further than their new bowtie-shaped can which will be hitting the shelves early next month.
While a brewer like Sly Fox is working to get around the aroma-robbing issues with their new topless can, and Samuel Adams is torturing themselves to create the perfect aluminum vessel to bring out the best in their wares, Budweiser has spent three years and “significant capital investments” developing a can that simply looks cool.
It also only holds 11.3 ounces of beer, so drinkers are getting even less than they would from a traditional can of Budweiser.
From the details shared in the press release below, the new bowtie-shaped beer seems to do nothing to enhance the flavor or aroma of the beer for the drinker. Actually, there’s no mention of flavor or functionality for the drinker at all, only breathless quotes from Director of Innovation for Anheuser-Busch Pat McGauuley about how neat the thing looks.
Here’s a sampling of what he says:
The world’s most iconic beer brand deserves the world’s most unique and innovative can. I think we have it here.
I’d shy away from using the word “innovative” when describing something that’s all about style, not substance, but I don’t work for Bud.
We explored various shapes that would be distinguishable in the marketplace, but also viable from an engineering standpoint.
Again – it’s all about looks – no mention of flavor or functionality for the drinker.
Wait, I take it back – it’s easy to grip…
This can is certainly a conversation starter: eye-catching, easy-to-grip, trendy and – according to our research – very appealing to young adults.
Yes, the research has shown that “young adults” will have hours of fun in conversations started by the trendy and eye-catching new can:
Young Adult One: Hey dude – what up?
Young Adult Two: Hey.
Young Adult One: Want a Bud?
Young Adult Two: Umm, sure. What’s up with the can?
Young Adult One: I dunno – Mike bought ’em.
Young Adult Two: Stupid Mike.
Young Adult One: Yeah, he’s kind of a tool, but free beer, you know?
Young Adult Two: I guess…
I know I’ve recently picked on Budweiser for the ridiculous Black Crown Media Kit, and I honestly don’t want to harp on them.
But I’m going to, because it’s striking to see that, at a time when craft brewers are bringing ACTUAL innovation to canned beer, Budweiser is once again putting style in front of substance.
It bothers me that a company with the resources to do something amazingly innovative chooses instead to do something vapid and useless.
I know they’re a marketing company that happens to brew beer, but as the landscape of the American beer scene is changing, I wish AB-InBev would concentrate on making a positive difference in the marketplace and not just more noise.
Here’s the entire press release from Budweiser’s media page:
World’s Most Unique Beer Can:
Bowtie-Shaped Can on May 6
ST. LOUIS (April 17, 2013) – This spring Budweiser will introduce a striking and original new beer can – a bowtie-shaped aluminum can that mirrors Budweiser’s iconic bowtie logo.
Beer lovers can see for themselves the new bowtie-shaped can when it becomes available in a special 8-pack on store shelves nationwide beginning May 6.
“This can is incomparable, like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” said Pat McGauley, vice president of innovation for Anheuser-Busch. “The world’s most iconic beer brand deserves the world’s most unique and innovative can. I think we have it here.”
The proprietary can, in development since 2010, will be available only in the United States and in an 8-pack and will not replace the traditional Budweiser can.
To make the new can possible, Anheuser-Busch engineers needed to solve a number of technical challenges, and major equipment investments were required at Budweiser’s can-making facility in Newburgh, N.Y. Significant capital investments also were required to upgrade packaging lines at the Budweiser breweries in Los Angeles and Williamsburg, Va., the first breweries with capability to package this unique can innovation.
Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City and 90 miles south of Albany, is where proprietary equipment is located that shapes the can. Creating the can requires a 16-step process – 10 steps to form the bottom half of the can, with an additional six steps to form the top portion.
The Anheuser-Busch Global Innovation Group has been investigating potential can innovations for several years.
“We explored various shapes that would be distinguishable in the marketplace, but also viable from an engineering standpoint,” McGauley said. “Aluminum can be stretched only about 10 percent without fracturing, which requires that the angles of the bowtie be very precise.”
An initial run of more than 10 million bowtie cans were produced in Newburgh through March 31 for the spring introduction. An additional 8 million cans are scheduled to be produced this month.
Due to the can’s slimmer middle and sleek design, it holds 11.3 ounces of beer and has about 137 calories, approximately 8.5 fewer calories than a traditional 12-ounce can of Budweiser.
“This can is certainly a conversation starter: eye-catching, easy-to-grip, trendy and – according to our research – very appealing to young adults,” McGauley said. “It’s a beer can like no other.”
Though there is no written documentation on the origins of the Budweiser bowtie, it is a brand icon found the world over. According to company lore, the bowtie was introduced when too many people were using the “Bud” bar call too frequently, so the double triangles were added to emphasize the full Budweiser name.
The Budweiser bowtie can is a natural progression from the new packaging introduced in 2011 that emphasized the iconic bowtie, a symbol that first appeared in a national advertising campaign for Budweiser in 1956.
The bowtie can is another example of how Budweiser continues to innovate, evolve and attract a new generation of beer drinkers. “It builds on the success of Budweiser Black Crown, the crowd-sourced fan favorite introduced earlier this year,” McGauley said.
The launch of the can is being supported with a marketing campaign that includes digital, print and television. It will be offered for sale in grocery stores and super markets, convenience stores and packaged liquor stores.