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Writer Charles Farrar Browne, aka Artemus Ward, noted, “We all can’t be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots.” When he wrote that he was, of course, talking about people – not products. But certain brands think it’s a philosophy worth leveraging, and sometimes it is.

Some are very successful at it because they have an authentic foundation for making a claim to patriotism. Think “Jeep” or “Coca-Cola.” Others – and there are lots of them – think they can just wrap themselves in the flag and that will do it! The less successful of them, the unsubtle ones, are enough to drive you to drink! Maybe a beer would help. Or a number of beers.

There are lots of beers out there. That includes Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois and 200 other brands, aka Belgium-based, mega-brewer InBev. They haven’t been doing so well when it comes to their Budweiser brand, and we’d have to agree.

According to our 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index – and many prior Loyalty & Engagement Indices – Budweiser rates pretty low on people’s lists and on the bottom of ours. Of the major beer brands Sam Adams (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and an actual brewery owner) is #1, with current rankings as follows:

  1. Sam Adams
  2. Coors
  3. Corona
  4. Dos Equis
  5. Busch
  6. Miller
  7. Stella Artois
  8. Michelob
  9. Heineken
  10. Budweiser

Of the critical drivers of beer loyalty that are responsible for these consumer engagement levels, we can confidently tell you that a craft-like image and credible authenticity are not at the bottom of the list. They’re waaay at the top.

But Budweiser is at the bottom of the list. When it comes to Regular beers and Light beers (where it ranks 8th, after Amstel and Michelob). So Budweiser, aka Anheuser-Busch, unable to meet the high expectations beer drinkers hold for craft-like beers and a sense of authenticity, initiated a re-branding program. They’re replacing the Budweiser logo with the name “America” on its 12-ounce cans and bottles, which still doesn’t make it the best beer in America.

The reason they’re doing that? Well, according to Ricardo Marques, Budweiser VP, “We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen,” which sounds good but raises questions: “What generation?” and “Why would anyone who wasn’t actually drunk believe that?” Oh, and “Are you so desperate that you’d throw away billions already invested in the brand – even one at the bottom of the list – and confuse shoppers just to try to co-opt the value of “patriotism”?

A partial answer to those questions is the name change – besides concealing and/or camouflaging the true origin and source of an apparently less-than-loved brew – is, according to Budweiser, aka InBev, “to inspire drinkers to celebrate America and Budweiser’s shared values of freedom and authenticity.” You can believe that or not! Maybe 2 or 9 beers would help.

Note to InBev: Leveraging the value of “patriotism” may have sounded good at the pitch meeting and probably made you feel all warm inside, but Budweiser hasn’t shown up on our annual “Most Patriotic Brands” list for years now. Even back when a foreign company didn’t own you. No matter how you many flags, eagles, and slogans, you slap on the can, saying it and actually being it are two, entirely different things. That’s especially true about emotional values like “Patriotism.” Oh, which is why Sam Adams is at the top of the list. Just saying.

The cans of “patriotic” brew were introduced on May 23rd and will be available through the November election. Coincidence? You be the judge.

On another nationalism front, Donald Trump took credit for the beer’s rebranding. When asked by Fox and Friends if he thought his slogan “Make America Great Again” inspired the name change, Mr. Trump replied, “I think so, they’re so impressed with what our country will become that they decided to do this before the fact.” As one of the few, successful Human Brands, we think Mr. Trump should have ducked that one.

But make of all that what you will. And the name change. We suspect Budweiser, we mean, America, would do anything that will get consumers to stand up and salute. Funny, that sounds a lot like this year’s presidential candidates too.

Anyway, both brewers and politicians should remember what another author, Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King, wrote about beer: “Anyone who lies about beer makes enemies!”

 


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: brandkeys.com. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

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