Budweiser Renames Itself

budweiser
By Sara Rider   |   May 25, 2016

When a company decides to rename an established brand, it’s a big deal. Thousands of hours of research, strategizing, and creative thought go into the final decision—as well as a whole lot of money to launch and support the new name.

Now one of the iconic brands in America—Budweiser—has taken a new approach to rebranding, changing the name of its flagship beer from “Budweiser” to “America.”

A new beer for summer

Beginning May 23rd the new bottles and cans were available in stores throughout the country. “America” will be on sale through the Presidential election. (Insert joke here.)

presidential election

This short-term rebranding is something that hasn’t been tried before. Will it work? What’s the motivation? And could this become a new marketing strategy for brands?

According to The Atlantic, summer is beer season. In the U.S., about 1/3 of all beer sales happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Budweiser is the third most popular beer in America, selling about 100 million cases each year. So if Anheuser-Busch can use this new name to sell more beer during “beer season,” it could be quite lucrative.

Patriotism to drive sales

The Atlantic reports that patriotic rebranding has been shown to have some appeal to consumers. Research during the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 Olympics found that “consumers’ patriotism during international mega-sporting events significantly increases their involvement in those events and that heightened level of patriotism. . . positively influences their attitudes toward patriotic advertising.”

So why be patriotic now?

budweiser

According to the Budweiser site, the reason to repackage Budweiser now is because, “we are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on U.S. soil for the first time, Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser. Of course, since the Winter and Summer games were put on a new schedule that allows them to fall two years apart, Summer games and U.S. Presidential races have coincided every four years. And the Copa America is always in the same year as the Summer Olympics. So the exact motivation remains a little unclear.

Meet the new can

What is clear is that Anheuser-Busch has gone all-out to make the new “America” can as similar in style to the old Budweiser can, while giving it a big jolt of Americana. A commentator in The New Yorker described it this way: “The new beer can looks like a sleek, jingoistic bullet, or like a metallic Old Glory, on steroids.” The Anheuser-Busch site also describes the new packaging as including phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance, lyrics from “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful,” as well as images of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty. There’s even a banner that says, “indivisible since 1776” (if you overlook that nasty period between 1861 and 1865.)

Drinking American beer

According to MONEY, the U.S. Brewers Association says that there are more than 4,400 brewers in the U.S. Among them, they sell about 10,000 American-made, American-owned beers. Budweiser (or “America”) is not one of them. Since 2008, Anheuser-Busch who makes Budweiser has been owned by a global firm based in Belgium, Aneuser-Busch InBev.

Is that a small point? Will Americans care? Will they drink a beer named “America” that is brewed by a company based in Belgium? One can only imagine all the puns on FaceBook and Twitter and the interesting photos on Instagram that the new name will inspire. But maybe that’s the point—lots of social media buzz mixed with hoped for gold medals.

It could work!

 

About the Author

Sara Rider, Vice President at DeLaune & Associates, has written extensively for the healthcare, financial, non-profit, and technology industries for more than 30 years.

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