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Macrotrends for macro beers

Posted on  3 February 15  by 


by Emily Weiss

Audiences expect to see memorable, splashy ads from big beer brands during the Super Bowl. It’s a game-day inevitability, much like the crushing heartburn that settles in when you reach the bottom of a basket of Buffalo wings. This year was no exception, but the most talked-about ad around the (virtual) watercooler here at Iconoculture was undoubtedly Budweiser’s “Brewed the Hard Way”. Instead of pandering to the values and attitudes that drove the seemingly limitless growth of the craft beer movement over the last five years, Bud made a bold display of embracing its workaday roots, declaring that its products are “not to be fussed over” and are simply made for people who “like to drink beer.”

The brand is right in its instinct to pivot. Our research shows (as do national sales numbers) that Big Beer has taken a big hit, especially among Millennials. im_MillennialsNoBigBeer_398073_2But we also know that preferences for highfalutin foods and beverages are waning. Trends like Foodies Recalibrate and The Ideal Gets Real reflect that consumers may be more open to simplicity, rusticity and transparency than they have been in the past. So we had to ask ourselves: Has craft beer passed its prime? Or is Big Beer just grasping at straws, trying any tactic to stay relevant?

While some among us and in the media felt that the ad was refreshingly realistic, others criticized it for being hypocritical. It remains to be seen whether this spot will turn heads and win new fans, or alienate a whole potential consumer base. But no one can say Budweiser is sending a weak message: They’re “proudly macro.”

photo credit: Rick Marshall,


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