Fighting commoners for "share of throat" as the kingdom crumbles
ABI abdicates Super Bowl throne, Coke enters RTD chat, Coors recalls "ropy" beer + more
#️⃣ Digits: ABI’s Super Bowl retreat
There was a time, before we were born, when the company formerly known as Anheuser-Busch did not hold the exclusive rights to alcohol-related advertising during the Super Bowl. Well, before some of us were born, at least. It was 1989 when the world’s biggest beer company first cornered the market on booze promotions on the world’s most coveted airtime, which means it’s been…
…since any other beer, wine, or spirits brand has had the opportunity to hawk its liquid wares on national TV during the Big Game broadcast. The intrepid beer beat stalwarts at Beer Marketers Insights reported this week that Anheuser-Busch InBev has opted to
loosen release entirely its viselike and longstanding grip on the drinks-related ad privileges during the NFL’s annual championship programming. It’s the end of an era that’s been ongoing for as long as your fearless Fingers editor has been alive. It’s also the culmination of a few trends: ABI’s post-Brito search for any remaining fat to cut from its debt-burdened books; mounting (and increasingly direct) competition from heavyweights in the wine and spirits categories for “share of throat;” the soaring cost and dubious return-on-investment of Super Bowl spots; and so on.
Mind you, this doesn’t mean ABI’s brands won’t show up during commercial breaks of Super Bowl broadcasts yet to come, only that a Barefoot or Bulleit will now be able to buy spots alongside them. And the local-market loophole, exploited for years by non-ABI brands including Yellow Tail and Sam Adams, remains open to all comers. Still, it’s a remarkable cultural shift, one that will likely create as many waves within the company—where Super Bowl supremacy has long been a point of institutional pride and well-performing spots drive employee and partner morale—as it does with the American drinking public. If not more! Imagine: the once-mighty King of Beers forfeiting the high ground and actually competing for attention—like a commoner—with which to pitch the nation on the vassals of its crumbling kingdom, like
Bud Light Next Bud Light Hard Soda Goose Island uh… Cutwater Spirits? Everything about that sentence would have Gussie Busch spinning in his grave.
📬 Good post alert
🤝 The rise and fall of a top craft brewery, as told by the comments section
Earlier this week I published a deep dive into the 2019 crowdfunding page of Modern Times Beer, the onetime San Diego craft brewing juggernaut that expanded like mad as industry headwinds mounted last decade only to hit the skids and wind up in receivership just a few years later. Today, it’ll be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the financial fates of the brewery’s employee-owners and 1,200 retail investors hanging in the balance. For other companies, Modern Times’ rise and fall is a cautionary tale about the dangers of leverage, ambition, and bad luck; for the American drinking public, it’s a sobering reminder that ~vibes~ do not a smart investment make.
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📬 Good post alert x2
Thank you to Friends of Fingers Ryan Z., Kristen S., and Blake D. for sending me this good post.
🧾 The Settle-Up
Bonus: Kate Bernot (Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing), Jess Infante (Brewbound), and I discussing some of these headlines on our most recent Twitter Spaces session of Beer Byliners. Listen here:
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