New Shock Top Video Campaign Calls Out Craft Beers for “Trying Too Hard”

If you needed another clue that craft-beer-pretender Shock Top is the baby of Big Beer, look no further than these “viral” videos from Canadian ad agency Anomaly that rolled onto Shock Top’s YouTube channel last week. They are just what you might expect from a large corporation (A-B InBev) trying to act like one of the cool kids. 

In this series of clearly staged videos, Shock Top mascot “Wedgehead” – a talking orange slice with a mohawk – accosts various actors “unsuspecting beer lovers” in the beer aisle and at the bar, peppering them with quick-witted regular-guy quips about their appearance, their ability to attract the opposite sex, and other clearly scripted “spontaneous” conversations.

The nature of these videos fit perfectly with the Shock Top brand – a highly calculated attempt to come off as authentic, but missing the mark by just enough to show that you’re a complete fraud.

There are the actors, each clearly chosen to represent a demographic group Shock Top wants to target (one girl even has lots of tattoos – HOW GENUINE!).

There’s the messaging, clearly on-brand, but hiding behind “irreverent” humor that supports the tagline, “Listen, you know I’m a good beer, I know I’m a good beer – we don’t have to talk about it, let’s chat about something else.”

There’s the computer enhanced graphics in the beer aisle videos, made to look just like the real thing (but not the real thing).  Yup – that’s Shock Top in a nutshell.

Along with attempting to paint itself as a hip alternative to the mainstream, Shock Top also uses Wedgehead (ugh- that hurt to type) to take potshots at their craft beer competitors (you know, beers that are actually made in small batches by independent breweries).

In one of the videos entitled “My dad is losing his Mohawk,” the edgy wedge proclaims,  “You guys know these beers…they’re trying too hard, you know what I mean?  Fifteen names?  Wildebeest Three Headed Unicorn? What is that?”  The bar patrons he’s talking to titter with laughter, because they clearly agree – those other craft beers are SO PRETENTIOUS, but not you, Wedgehead – you’re our cool pal!

I’ve posted all the videos I can find below (sorry) so you can check them out for yourself.  And if you happen to be wandering around the streets of Toronto, look out for the talking Shock Top billboard – god help you.

I guess the good news here is that the Big Boys will always show their true colors; their attempt to come off as totally non-corporate couldn’t feel MORE corporate.  Hopefully that’ll stop some folks from confusing this pretender for an honest-to-goodness craft brewery.



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

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40 Comments on “New Shock Top Video Campaign Calls Out Craft Beers for “Trying Too Hard””

  1. July 9, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Gotta love that the mascot is a misogynistic frat-boy douche. They clearly don’t think much of their target demographic. Also not sure any beer company should be saying things like, “let’s make some mistakes tonight.”

    • July 9, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Well they already made their first one when they bought Shock Top – what’s a few more?!

  2. GregH
    July 9, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Oh, Good God.

    • July 9, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      “Ayyy – it’s your edgy pal Wedgehead!!”

      • GregH
        July 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

        I could only get through one and a few seconds of another.

        • July 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

          I watched them all – I suffer for journalism!!

  3. July 9, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    “Listen, you know I’m a good beer, I know I’m a good beer – we don’t have to talk about it, let’s chat about something else.”

    And still they haven’t figured out that people who like good beer also enjoy talking about it– how its made, how it compares to others of its kind, why one does or doesn’t like a particular brew? I guess it figures, look how much trouble you had finding enough adjectives to describe that Miller Lite you reviewed the other day.

    • July 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      But I agree, it sounds like “let’s not talk about how I taste – let’s talk about how I can smell your leather jacket, brah!!”

  4. Don
    July 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    You know Jim, if all the frat boys drank Shock Top, I would lose absolutely 0 business. What really sticks in my craw however is the attacks on real craft. Go ahead, make and sell your swill, you’ll sell tons. But one thing craft beers never do is put down the competition. That is why big beer will never be craft, it doesn’t really matter how crafty their brews are, it is also about community, and they will never get their nose into that tent.

    • July 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      The name and picture look familiar…have you been around here before?

    • July 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Yup – craft beer is (so far) a meritocracy – I’ll make mine, you make yours and we’ll see who sells more fair and square. Of course this is what Tony Magee was going nuts about a few months back, when he claimed Sam Adams violated the craft beer code by directly targeting Lagunitas IPA taps for takeover by SA’s Rebel IPA:

      • Paul Brown
        July 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

        Sam Adams latest ad with the rotating taps but Boston Lager is still around is another reason I will not buy or drink anything from Boston Beer Co including any of it’s hidden labels.

        • July 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

          I was going to post about that, but it was on the heels of the whole Lagunitas IPA/ Rebel IPA dust up and I didn’t want to be piling on. SA is getting a bit slippery of late, but they still run a bunch of programs that introduce people to the wonders of craft beer (Latitude 48 Deconstructed, Long Shot, Utopias, etc.).

    • Joe
      July 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      Don, I’ve seen numerous examples of “craft” brewers belittling the big boys. Just because you agree with “craft” brewers opinion of the big boys doesn’t mean that when you turn the other cheek when they make such comments, it never happened.

      • July 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

        You tell him, Joe! I don’t recall who this Don guy is, but don’t fall for his BS!

    • July 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      Well said Don!

  5. Don
    July 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Not going to say they will never have a dust up but blatant put downs aren’t cool and I think never will be.

    • July 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      Agreed. I never put down a brewer, even for bad viral video campaigns. Wait…

    • GregH
      July 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Put downs or slamming the competition never good in any business, it just makes you look cheap and petty.

      • July 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        I agree Greg, and you won’t hear good insights like these on those other crappy beer blogs!! 😉

        • July 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

          Little guys poking fun at the big guys as part relevant marketing positioning might work. There’s something to be said about small outfits producing a more crafted and tailored product that mass production can’t or won’t pull off. And you can cheer for an underdog. But big guys attacking little guys? Even in grade school, I knew that was a questionable tactic.

        • July 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

          Worse yet is big guys dressing up like little guys and then trying to slip past the playground monitor so they can beat the crap out of the actual little guys (you know, if we’re doing the grade school theme)…

        • GregH
          July 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

          Now that I think about it, didn’t SA’s first ads, way back when, sort of slam the big guys?

        • July 10, 2014 at 9:06 am #

          I think so – I recall them pegging themselves as a more flavorful alternative (which they were/are).

  6. Rust
    July 10, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    This article is so pretentious

    • July 10, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      It really nothing compared to some of the other stuff I’ve written. 🙂

    • July 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      A blind taste test. Can’t get much more objective than that.

  7. July 10, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Drinking Shocktop is like paying for a rubber hooker sure you can do the same things with it once you’ve bought it and you know you may have save a little money but really was it worth it?

    • July 10, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

      And both leave a bad taste in your mouth (depending on what you’re into!)

  8. Don
    July 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Ha I see Hoegaarden and Leffe right next to Shock top. I know what I’m buying!

  9. MT
    July 13, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Hoegaarden and Leffe are also both owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Interesting placement…

  10. djdshdsdskhjdsjkhdskjh
    July 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    These commercials are funny you craft beer loving douchebags.

    • July 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Ha ha – how long you’ve been working for A-B InBev?

  11. December 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on Food Summit and commented:
    What are your thoughts?


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