Nothing is more annoying than beating a dead horse. Whether it be a joke, a meme, a song, or a tale, it gets annoying for the person spewing it as well as the person having to listen to it. But here we are at the end of June 2017 having to report on AB-InBev making fools out of themselves and showing that despite having all of the money in the world, they are tone deaf when it comes to public relations.
Last summer, The High End, the portfolio former craft breweries Anheuser Busch purchased in the U.S., trotted out Meg Gill of Golden Road and a few other figureheads on a press tour asking why can’t we all be one happy family of brewers. The main narrative has been that even though they are part of the mega-corporation, that they are still craft brewers, still making great beer and that it is business as usual. While there are varying degrees of response to that narrative within the craft beer industry, my stance is that they should stop looking for street cred and just make their beer.
It seems like lack of love and acceptance is eating a hole in the hearts of the likes of Wicked Weed, Elysian, 10 Barrel and others, as they are continuing to grovel whenever they have a chance. Earlier this week, the trade organization that represents the 5,000+ craft breweries, the Brewers Association, launched a campaign to help these small brewers differentiate themselves from the large corporate beers that are trying to blend in with independently owned craft beers. While there was varying degrees of support for this initiative, the top-level message was largely accepted amongst the independent craft beer community.
Instead of leaving the little guys be, AB-InBev quickly went on the defense (with a sprinkle of offense) with an eye rolling op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, in which the president of The High End portfolio proclaimed “we’re all just making good beer”, dismissing points about the unfair business practices that have craft breweries up in arms. They even went a step further by promoting this piece on their social media channels with a sponsored post boost. Not only was this eye rolling for the message at hand, it was also pretty interesting they were able to inject themselves into mainstream press in order to combat the Brewers Association’s grassroots campaign.
As if that wasn’t sad enough, they then released a slick video in which six High End brewers attempted to chop down the Independent Craft campaign, completely missing the mark as to why this campaign was even launched. I don’t blame these brewers; they are merely doing what they are told by their overlords. It’s pathetic, but I get it. Instead of AB-InBev just being content with owning the majority of the world’s beer and being content they actually have some higher quality beer being made compared to what they had five years ago, they are acting like a desperate dumped girlfriend attempting to patch things up. They don’t want a piece of the pie, they don’t want half the pie, they don’t want most of the pie: they want the whole fucking pie. After watching that video, you will notice that they have added a new twist to their plea. “It’s us versus wine and spirits.” Look for that to be included in future pathetic memes and campaigns. Anyone who didn’t care for the Brewers Association’s campaign should look at these lame attempts of blurring the lines to better understand why something needed to be done. Every chance AB-InBev has to just act content, brew their beer, and make their gobs of money, but instead choose to take the low road with public relations failures.