A couple of decades ago, Budweiser, owned by ABInbev, was the best-selling beer in the United States, and the brand your snobby European relatives brought up when insulting American beer. But according to the The Wall Street Journal, Budweiser shipped only 16 million barrels in 2013, down from 30 million in 2003. And what's worse, the number doesn't figure to get better anytime soon. A stunning 44 percent of people aged 21 to 27 have apparently
not attended a keg party never sipped an ice cold Bud.
Not every reason for this decline is Budweiser's fault. Americans are more health conscious. People drink more wine, mixed drinks, and spirits than before. But a bigger problem for Bud is the rise of "craft beers," defined as brews that make 6 million barrels or less each year. Once confined to specialty bars and festivals, craft beers can now be found just about anywhere. And taste-discerning Americans have responded: For the first time, the craft beer industry shipped more barrels of beer than Budweiser last year.
So how does the venerable Bud get back? Improve its quality? Lower prices? Nah. The company has decided that it's the advertising that needs to change. If you've watched an American sporting event over the last 25 years, you've surely noticed the Clydesdales, the massive white-legged horses pulling a cart of Budweiser, usually through the snow. But that long-running mascot apparently doesn't do it for Millennials. So Bud's going to change. According to the Journal:
This season Budweiser will air spots featuring people in their 20s looking directly into the camera and calling out friends’ names as a narrator asks “If you could grab a Bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?”
Is this going to work? Slate's Jordan Weissman doesn't think so. Budweiser is a beer "without a purpose," he writes. "If you walk into a bar, there will almost always be a cheaper beer, a less caloric beer, and plenty of tastier beers on tap."