No one would dispute that a bit of “creative license” is to be expected when it comes to advertising.
Few distort reality with more regularity and aplomb than American brewery companies.
These are the folks that would have you believe that the low-grade swill they pump out daily in quantities equivalent to that of a supertanker is a full-bodied, uniquely brewed, refreshingly satisfying beer.
In reality once you’re of legal drinking age you quickly come to the realization that not only do the ads in question leave a bit to be desired in terms of promises versus reality, but that you’re reluctant to even dump the slop in question into the steaming radiator of a rusting ‘63 Studebaker Lark for fear the suds will eat their way through the cooling system.
Indeed, it would seem that the more a beer ad promises and the more effort the company puts into selling its product, the lower the quality of the brew.
Take one of the latest advertising efforts by Budweiser, called “Return of the King.”
It begins with a black and white screen showing a bottle opener and the words “Prohibition Denied Americans Budweiser For 13 Years”. (And who said Prohibition was all bad?)
It shows scenes from, one assumes, the early 1930s, followed by the words, “Based on a True Story”.
It then shows exuberant men running through the streets and bursting in shops, shouting “It’s over! Prohibition is over!”
This is followed by a celebration and parade worthy of V-J Day, with revelers all but fighting for freshly opened Budweisers.
One supposes that in a society as deficient in its understanding of history as ours, this sort of foolishness likely won’t catch the attention of too many folks. But Budweiser certainly does seem to be pushing the limits of American credulity with this effort.
First, Prohibition didn’t end like a sudden bolt out of the blue.
On March 23, 1933, newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act allowing the manufacture and sale of beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight and light wines.
This act became law two weeks later and on April 8, 1933, Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of Budweiser, actually sent a team of its famed Clydesdale horses to deliver a case of Bud to the White House.
But the actual end of Prohibition didn’t come for another eight months, when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed on Dec. 5, 1933, and the Twenty-first Amendment was ratified.
Perhaps more important, Prohibition may have hurt Anheuser-Busch, but it certainly didn’t keep millions of Americans from enjoying a beer or some other alcoholic beverage.
The law lacked legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans who had been drinkers. They failed to understand why an action that had previously been legal was now suddenly verboten and saw no reason to give up something that had been part and parcel of their lives for years.
Finally, one finds it hard to believe that if, as Budweiser would have consumers believe, the nation erupted into a veritable Saturnalia in a matter of minutes with the end of Prohibition, it would celebrate by drinking … Budweiser.
The last thing I’d want if I’d been unable to legally quaff booze for the better part of a decade and a half is 3.2 beer, especially mediocre 3.2 beer.
Straight whiskey, applejack, even paint-stripping moonshine would have preferable to the watered-down carbonated pond water that Budweiser passes off as beer.
Perhaps Budweiser was of a higher quality 80-odd years ago, but there’s no way it was as good as Anheuser-Busch’s ads make it out to be.
The company should just be eternally grateful Americans don’t know their history.
5 thoughts on “History be damned, let’s sell some beer!”
‘Based on a true story’ covers any amount of television/movie sins, doesn’t it? They trade on the fact that most people are too lazy to actually find out stuff for themselves.
(I love your description of Budweiser as ‘watered-down carbonated pond water’)
I guess you could pretty much say anything is “based on a true story,” since under the sun is new. But you’re right – if no one knows anything about what’s happened before, it’s pretty easy to make something up and tell them that’s the way it was.
My disdain for Budweiser mostly stems from the fact that the promote themselves as “The King of Beers.” I mean, if you’re going to call yourself the king of something, do you really think it should be an item that’s produced by the boatload? Seems rather unregal.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Metan.
You are being grossly unfair to the Studebaker line. George F. Will once posited that America’s decline began, in fact, when Studebaker closed its doors. Any car company that could hire Raymond Loewy as a designer is a car company with top of the line radiators. Now if you’d said American beer tastes like it had been run through the radiator of a 1976 AMC Pacer, I’d be buying a round for the house…
A fellow Studebaker fan – well, I’ll be. A longtime dream of mine has been to get an old Studebaker pickup and fix it up. There’s something about them that sets them apart from other trucks of the 50s and early 60s that I’ve always liked. Then, a couple of years ago I came across a rare photo of my maternal grandfather with my mom. He was in his late 60s and she was a young girl. They were standing in front of a Studebaker pickup and I asked my mom who’s truck that was. She said it was his. I guess it runs in the genes.
Studebaker’s problem was they came out with cars that got decent gas mileage, like the Lark, at a time when Americans wanted lots of cubic inches under the hood and gas sold for 30 cents a gallon so mileage didn’t matter that much. And, yes, we’d have been a lot better off if AMC had gone under instead of Studebaker.
As Fozzie the Bear said in The Muppet Movie, “Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat – a Studebaker.”