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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Budweiser: You Can't Rush Plagiarism

Seems like America's beer just can't stop stealing things from southern Bohemia...

I was shocked late Friday night to see a really good beer ad from Budweiser. No, stop laughing. I've seen plenty of good ads from Bud before - stuff about frogs and lizards and whazaaap, but this was a good beer ad: it's true, it's centred on the product, and it says something good about the broader beer category - good lager takes time to mature. 



Last I heard, Budweiser is matured for twenty days. That's not as long as the classic lagers of the Czech Republic and Germany are matured, but it's a hell of a lot longer than the 72 hours some leading brands allegedly spend in the brewery between mashing in and packaging. You may not like the (lack of) taste in Budweiser, but even now they do some things right, and deserve some credit for that. So I was pleased to see an ad that had made lager maturation look cool. 

I said as much on Twitter and Facebook, and very quickly Simon George of Budweiser Budvar UK shot back that his new strategy is to focus on the Czech beer's astonishingly long lagering time - five times longer than the American beer. Budweiser Budvar has been running this copy for about nine months, albeit without the huge TV ad budgets US Bud can afford:


The dispute between American Budweiser and Czech Budweiser Budvar is decades old. Bud founder Adolphus Busch told a court of law, on record, in 1894: “The idea was simple,” he testified, “to produce a beer of the same quality, colour and taste as the beer produced in Budejovice [the Czech name for the town known as Budweis in German] or Bohemia.” Even though that record exists, the company has since flatly denied that this it stole the name Budweiser from the town of Budweis, or even took any inspiration from there. (There's a lot more on this dispute in my book Three Sheets to the Wind.)

Budvar spent a long time capitalising on its David V Goliath relationship with Budweiser and has recently decided to move on and focus on its ageing process instead, as part of a new strategy to remain relevant in a market where craft beer means drinkers are more interested in product specifics. But it seems Budweiser are still hung up on their namesake. Nine months after Czech Budvar focused their marketing campaign on how long it takes to make their beer, American Budweiser focused their marketing campaign on how long it takes to make their beer:




Having stolen the idea, they've now gone the whole hog and even stolen the same copy. The Budvar headline above? 'You can't rush perfection.' Spot the difference in the Facebook link to the ad below.


Come on, Budweiser. You've already stolen your name from the town in which Budweiser Budvar is brewed. You've copied their advertising idea (albiet in a fine execution) and now even their copy, word for word. You employ some of the best and most expensive advertising agencies in the world (even if you do try to shaft them on costs.) Is this the best those agencies can do?

3 comments:

John Penny said...

I saw Annabel Smith saying how good Bud was the other day. Oh dear; has she had more than her maximum number of units this week?

Anonymous said...

(Insert expletive about the US company). After reading about the behaviour of these guys in your writing I have long sought to boycott AB. As you say, there is very little taste to their primary product anyway. Bizarrely it is the standard beer of my new father-in-law and some of my Indian in-laws. I am not sure how their marketing has managed that. I cannot understand how their marketing has managed that? I am trying to steer them towards decent beer, especially IPA.

Anonymous said...

Great post, one sidenote: You can't "steal" the name of a town. It sucks that the legal system gave them a trademark for something that should be generic, the equivalent of "hamburger", but poor legal policy shouldn't amount to accusations of theft or plagiarism. Put the blame on the policies and judges that approved the trademark. Don't even get me started about "steam beer".