Drunk on America

When I first heard that A-B InBev was renaming its flagship brand, Budweiser to America for the summer and right on through to the election in November, I thought it was a joke.

I honestly can’t believe that here I am blogging again about Budweiser. Just a few posts ago, I was writing about how angry their ads had gotten, taking an in-your-face attitude to new extremes.

Now, this Belgian-owned company is doing the ultimate act of American commercialism, jumping on the patriotic bandwagon in their effort to sell more beer.

America beer.

Talk about a brand that has lost its way.

You can’t say that the folks at A-B-InBev are doing this to get us all to rally ’round the flag. Putting the Star Spangled banner on a can isn’t exactly a fitting tribute to Francis Scott Key. Sadly, in this day and age, I’ll bet the majority of Americans don’t even know what “E Pluribus Unum” even means or where it originated. Perhaps a few bar conversations might elicit the answer but I’m betting it doesn’t begin a new age of enlightenment about American history.

It’s all about selling beer and Budweiser, or, starting May 23rd, America, is fighting a losing battle. According to Market Watch, “In 1988, Budweiser sold 50 million barrels on its own, making up 25% of all beer sold in the U.S. It has lost more than 70% of its sales since that time and, back in 2011, was knocked into third place among beer brands by Coors Light. It now accounts for just 7% of the U.S. market.”

Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again – but this brand of America is on the decline, getting kicked around by the same craft beers that Budweiser has bashed in recent commercials.

I don’t think the in-your-face attitude is going to fly in their efforts to sell America. Instead, I’m expecting some syrupy, idyllic slice-of-life showing the great times had by all consuming America at backyard bar-b-ques, 4th of July celebrations and sporting events from baseball games to the Olympics. All in an effort to sell more beer.

Maybe they’re hoping that everyone will buy a six pack of America just so we can sit it on the shelf as a collector’s item and shake our heads at the audacity that Carlos Brito is now allowing to be launched from sea to shining sea.

First he does a hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch. Then he comes in, cuts costs, jobs and puts pressure on suppliers – from rice grain to beechwood to the printing and packaging industry, forcing companies to accept 90-day and in some cases 120-day payments for services rendered. Ah, that’s the American way.

No, it’s not.

I know a lot of people who still work for the brewery. I know a lot of other people who have lost a lot of business ever since the Belgian takeover took place.

Maybe America will be a marketing success.

I’m sure it’s been focus group tested and when quizzed, people still respond that they love America.

I just find it wrong for a company that is now foreign-owned to try and sell beer by putting our country’s name, founding thoughts, and heritage onto a label.

When Chevrolet did it with their, “America loves baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” it was kind of cute and iconic. When other brands salute the Olympics and play on Americana, it’s to be expected – particularly since many of those companies are helping through sponsorships. But no company (especially a foreign-owned one) has ever done anything quite as blatant as this.

America. I’m not buying it.






Budweiser’s bully pulpit


Even though Budweiser commercials still end with that all-time tag line of, “This Bud’s For You”, I can’t help but feel that they’re trying to insult me into making me drink their beer.

Facing declining sales, Bud has been fighting back with an in-your face campaign designed to slam microbrews and imported beers.

Initially, I liked the big, bold approach.

The King of Beers was protecting its throne.

But after seeing the same spot for about the tenth time with plenty more views guaranteed now that the Cardinals are back on the air, it struck me that Bud just now comes off as a big bully.

The commercials, by Anomaly out of New York, are very well-directed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF711XAtrVg Lots of close ups of the powerful Clydesdales; a guy flicking a fruit wedge out of his beer; young ladies dancing with Buds in their hands; more close ups of the beechwood aging process and the beer being brewed; all set to a pulsating, vibrating, big, bold music track.

But it’s all just too in your face. And I can’t even remember the last time I saw a female drinking a Budweiser.

Gone are the days when Bud would salute the hard-working every man with a smooth, silky, friendly approach that all led up to the final thought of, “For All You Do, This Bud’s For You.”

Now, I feel like the commercials are being shoved down my throat.

“Drink our beer, you putz. What kind of a man are you, anyway?”

Sorry, Budweiser. I’m not buying it.

And now, a few words about Snotes

Snotes? What in the world are Snotes?

Snotes stands for Secret Notes – they’re a way to send secret messages – via email, Social Media or you can print them off and either hand them or mail them to friends, family members, fellow co-workers or send anonymously to that special someone you’ve been admiring from afar.

For the past several months, I have been working with the Snotes team, helping to refine their website (snotes.com) and also helping to develop a wide range of licensing materials designed to help companies, game manufacturers, businesses and organizations see the potential power of Snotes to engage either customers or employees.

Much like a fortune cookie, once you know how to read a Snote, (http://snotes.com/how-do-i-read-a-snote/) almost any time you see one, you just have to know what they say.

Soon, we’re hoping that you begin to see more and more Snotes in a wide variety of applications.

Making and sending them is easy – you can do so from the Snotes generator, found on Snotes.com (just hit the Create and Share link at the top of the Snotes homepage).

Go ahead, try it out … I’ll wait …

If you really want to get into advanced Snotemaking, you can get a premium account for just $1.99. That’s like paying for a 16-ounce soda – and once you have the account, it’s yours to keep – and it will enable you to send all kinds of animations along with your Snote message, scramble your message via the Snotes Secret Decoder, make them more colorful and allow you to print them out in high res quality with vector files and do a wide range of other tricks to make the Snote deciphering process as hard as you want to make it.

That’s one aspect of Snotes. The other falls in the area of licensing – because you can put Snotes on almost anything – we find new uses for them almost every day.

We’re particularly excited about the possibilities for Snotes in a few key areas.

Jewelry is one of them. Imagine a special wedding anniversary gift – you take your initials and your significant other’s initials – you go to the jewelry manufacturer’s website, enter them into the Snotes Love Knots generator, choose your border, place your order and you have a very personalized gift that at first glance appears to be art – but in actuality, it’s two sets of initials, intertwined together. Cool looking, isn’t it? They’re not available yet – but we hope they will be soon.

Snotes Love Knots make for a very personalized piece of jewelry.

There are so many other potential licensing applications. We’re looking to align with a wedding supplier to help us create personalized wedding invitations featuring the initials of the bride and groom that can be carried through at the wedding, putting them on glasses, napkins, mementoes and personalized gifts for the bridal party or groomsmen. It’s just a matter of time.

Combining the bride and groom's initials into a Snote makes for a very classy wedding invite.


We’d love to work with a company that could sell personalized placemats featuring the names of the family. Or find a manufacturer of coasters or perhaps a brewery that could put trivia questions related to beer to help move more product with time-based games or even use our Snotes app to play triva games on line – table against table or one bar versus another.

We’re ready to engage with companies who specialize in employee recognition and engagement programs, creating Snotes-related awards that would be conversation starters as well. Temporary tattoos? Educational games where either the answer or the question is contained in the Snote? I could go on and on about the many ways that Snotes can be used. If you’re interested in seeing more, visit http://snotes.com/licensing-opportunities/

There’s also a Snotes Quotes app and a Snotes app (both fun to use, both available for free via Itunes or on your android)

Visit Snotes.com – look around. Create and send a Snote or two and then let your imagination run wild as to whom you might send your secret message and what you might say.

The $1.99 cost to get the Premium feature is well worth it as it opens up so many more possibilities for your Snote-making.

Get creative.

Have fun.

Discover the world of Snotes. And imagine the possibilities.

P.S. – I’d love to know what you think – we’re just now beginning to push Snotes out so any and all feedback is welcome. If you’re interested in learning more about how your company could use the power of Snotes or have your own ideas for uses, just let me know!

Four-day after 2015 Super Bowl commercials recall test

Now that the dust has settled from this year’s Super Bowl and everyone except for diehard Seahawks fans have gotten over Pete Carroll’s decision to pass the ball from the one-yard line with time on the clock and timeouts on their side, I thought I would do a little four-day after 2015 Super Bowl commercials recall test.

A record 120.8 million Americans tuned to their TVs for this year’s match. So advertisers who shelled out $4.5 million for a 30-second spot seemingly got their money’s worth.

Then again, your average American is probably busy dipping into the nacho cheese or grabbing another chicken wing or two during commercial breaks and may not have the rapt attention span that I gave to all of the various spots that ran throughout the game. (Here are most of them, if you’re interested in viewing again – http://www.superbowlcommercial2015.com/blog/complete-roster-super-bowl-xlix-advertisers/)

So what do I remember most?

Budweiser got me. That story of the lost puppy was so predictable, but so well done that I couldn’t help but like it. It won’t make me drink their beer (and neither will the 60-second spot they ran towards the end of the game with the big, bold type that slammed the microbrews with their pumpkin ales), but hey, I loved the commercial and that puppy was cute beyond words.

Victoria’s Secret surprised me. I thought they were going to run some spot with their models dressed up in football uniforms. What a waste that would have been. Instead, they put their product on display. Let the real games begin. Great copy.

McDonald’s won me over, too. Their whole campaign on lovin’ where random people will get free food during February if they give a little love back – brilliant marketing idea. I’m tempted to get a Big Mac just thinking about it.

Coke was also spreading the love – it was a quirky spot but I liked it and was sad to read today that they had to pull the campaign because their twitter plan backfired and they were hacked. Social media can bite back.

Skittles and Snickers didn’t disappoint. The Skittles commercial with the arm wrestling brought back some of the weirdness that had been missing in more recent Skittles efforts. The rainbow made me happy. And who couldn’t like the Brady Bunch commercial where Marsha just wasn’t herself because she was hungry. Unlike the dreaded Rob Lowe executions for DirecTV, Snickers continues to deliver great creative executions based off of a strong selling promise.

After that, things begin to get sketchy.

Car commercials are always hard to do. Dodge turned it over to a bunch of 100-year olds to deliver their message. Fiat had a commercial that I was convinced was a Viagra spot up until the very end. It was a well-directed spot and fun to watch but it left me thinking more about Viagra then the Fiat. Jeep took us around the world and I enjoyed the view – but that was about it. I don’t know what Toyota is trying to tell or sell me. Maybe I’m not the target audience. Kia? Chevy? BMW? Sorry, I know you were there, but I don’t quite remember what you were selling.

There was an anti-heroin commercial that was pretty impactful. Problem was, I kept waiting for it to turn humorous or have some surprise ending. Heroin only has bad endings. It was a good commercial but kind of a downer during the Super Bowl festivities.

Nationwide had some commercial that was also kind of a downer. I remember their end line of “Make Safe Happen” – but again, there was a little too much noise going on around me to really focus on what they were talking about. Hopefully, they’ll run it a few more times.

Doritos – meh.

Microsoft – I remember being impressed when I saw their commercial and I know they’re talking about the tremendous things that people are doing because of them but I can’t recall what they were saying right now.

They say you need to see a commercial a minimum of three times before you actually get the message.

Many of these spots I’m sure I’ll see again and I’ll try and pay better attention next time.

To all the others that I failed to mention because they weren’t top-of-my-mind – just wait ’til next year.




Is advanced hype taking the air out of Super Bowl commercials?

A recent poll said that 89% of people don’t like seeing Super Bowl commercials in advance.

I have no idea of the validity of this poll but I do agree with it. There’s something special about seeing a commercial for the first time on the Super Bowl. You look forward to each commercial break and if you’ve already seen the commercial before, there’s a little bit of a letdown. It’s even worse than throwing an under-inflated football.

Advertisers are trying to get a grip with the whole pre-release notion. Some are smart – and only dole out online teasers.

I’m already looking forward to seeing what Snickers is going to do in this year’s game. They have an online teaser telling us about a very special episode of “The Brady Bunch” – and no, it doesn’t appear to be about Tom Brady and his under-inflated balls, but rather, some very weird spin-off of the old Brady Bunch TV show. My appetite has been whetted.

Anheuser-Busch tries to play both sides of the, “give them something to see, but don’t give them your best shot”. They have a “Lost Puppy Dog” commercial that’s supposed to be this year’s tear-jerker – I assume the Clydesdales somehow help save the day but we won’t know how until next Sunday evening.

They’ve already released a 60-second spot that will be airing on the big game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9A1NowrnGI) involving their on-going up for whatever happens next campaign. In this one, a guy gets to be a live contestant in a giant Pac Man game. The whole thing seemed kind of stupid to me but it was very watchable.

Carl’s Jr (Hardee’s in our area) is out with another sex-driven, loaded with innuendo spot featuring Charlotte McKinney who seemingly appears ‘all natural’ throughout the commercial, and in the end, takes a bite out of an ‘all natural’ burger. It will be hated by women everywhere and probably loved by the 18-34 male target audience that they are trying to reach. Since I’m no longer in that target age, I refuse to comment (though I did watch the commercial three times to make sure I got all my facts correct).

Dove has already released their Super Bowl commercial (http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/34893.html). It’s a tribute to dads and yes, I liked it quite a bit – though I don’t think I’ll be buying their line of skin care products any time soon.

We’ll be seeing a number of movie trailers, too. Star Wars will be there. And a new trailer for Jurassic World, directed by Steven Speilberg looks like it will be a fun one to watch.

There will be plenty of duds – plenty of commercials trying to be outrageous with virtually no product tie-in whatsoever. They will all quickly fade into oblivion, $4.5 million dollars for 30 seconds washed right down the toilet, bathroom breaks or not.

Victoria’s Secret has their super models playing football. Sorry, I’d rather see them parade around in their angel costumes then suit up and simulate toughness on the gridiron.

Car commercials always have a tough time making a real impact. Toyota featues paralympian, Amy Purdy, skiing, dancing and doing remarkable feats with her bladerunner feet and somehow, that’s linked to buying a Toyota. I liked the spot enough to write about it but I won’t be in any Toyota showrooms any time soon.

But that’s enough of a tease.

If I revealed everything I’ve seen, it would just be deflating when you see it next Sunday night.

I’m sure that every football will be fully pumped for this game.

Hopefully, you will be, too, whenever the commercials come on to give us a break.


Let’s sell some beer

Remember the days when Bud Light used to roll out commercials that would make you laugh? And then two or three weeks later, they’d roll out another one?

Now we get Ian, the guy who gets kidnapped and taken on an adventure that’s broken up into about five parts that’s played over and over and over again.

The first time I saw Arnold playing ping-pong it was surprising. Not so much on the 17th viewing.

Here’s a link to some classic Bud Light commercials ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSGySgH411A

Spend a few minutes watching them and you’ll long for the days when there was humor in TV commercials. I’m not sure what the current market share is for Bud Light. I wonder how many people are bothering to buy the bottle with the twist off cap. That commercial airs about six or seven times on every Cardinals telecast. All it does for me is make me think that if the beer isn’t good enough to drink in one setting, why would I want to bother to cap it off and drink it later?

Budweiser commercials seem to have knocked Bud Light to the back seat – at least from production levels. The recent Bud spot promoting the World Cup is extremely well done – but it might as well have been for Adidas because there’s very little correlation to World Cup soccer and Budweiser, especially in this commercial.

Budweiser Black Crown? I have yet to attend a party where everyone wears all black and dances on a 40-foot long table. I know I’m no longer in the right demographic but I’m not real sure what the demographic is for that Bud brand.

I do like the Bud commercial with the Major League baseball tie-in. The scene at the end of the commercial where the guy is walking into the stadium and we see it’s Busch Stadium is well done. I hope they’ve done that version of the spot for every ball park. If they have, that’s smart marketing. A toast to that one.

Other than that, I think A-B InBev has gotten way off track. They continue to try and introduce spin-offs or variations versus sticking to the tried and true.

Maybe their market research says the tried and true doesn’t work anymore. Or maybe TV advertising is simply no longer where it’s at when it comes to selling beer and everything needs to be experiential – sponsor major parties, do giveaways, generate trial. I know that all needs to be part of the equation and today it probably plays a larger role than ever before.

The Super Bowl is great for launching major campaigns and breaking out the Clydesdales and TV is a major star that can’t be beat in that regard. But when it comes down to what do you run on a Tuesday night for a local Cardinals Fox Sports telecast, we get to see a cap twisting off a bottle multiple times.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it.

Please A-B InBev – refresh thy brands.



My thoughts on improving the St. Louis ADDYs

The St. Louis ADDYs were held this past Thursday night at Plush.

Overall, I thought the quality of work was significantly better than last year’s show – at least what I could see.

And that’s my biggest gripe about the show.

Only the winning entries get shown at the show. So if you happen to have a finalist that earns a Certificate of Excellence – congratulations – your name will be printed in the ADDY book but no one will be able to see your entry.

As for the winning entries? Well good luck, there, too.

Plush is a great place to host a party. It’s not a great place to show work. So if you come to the party hoping to see the work, grab yourself a beer and enjoy the party. Because about 50% of the work on display is not exactly easy viewing, if it can be viewed at all.

Some of the winning entries were placed at shin level. Others were so poorly lit that the question, “Who reads copy, anyway?” had the answer of nobody.

Digital Advertising has about eight or nine categories. In the program book, the winners and finalists take up 15 pages. It’s up to the entrant to display the work, generally showing the home page and maybe one or two sample interior pages. Some don’t even do that, just showing a nice screen grab of the home page leaving you to wonder what magic this winning entry had because a screen grab of a home page doesn’t exactly do justice to a fully-integrated, brilliantly designed website.

Here’s a thought … why not have a few nearby laptops that could actually showcase the websites?

Granted, there’s no guarantee that people wouldn’t spill beer all over the laptop or begin surfing X-rated sites but I think generally, you could count on this audience to actually want to explore the work to see what the winners looked like.

If that’s not feasible, here’s another thought … why not give each finalist and winning entry a QR code that people could scan on their smart phones to at least view the work that way? Most of these sites have been optimized for mobile so why not allow us to see what they look like?

The ADDY invite could even tell people that they could bring their own smartpads or Ipads or whatever device they might choose and they could then scan the codes and view the work the same way the judges got to see it.

That same idea of using QR codes could be applied to all of the video and broadcast entries.

It used to be they would at least show the winning entries on a large screen. Now, in the rush to get through the 80 or so ADDY categories, you get 5-15 second snippets of the winning work, played onstage before the crowd that just wants you to get on with the show.

True, the bulk of those in attendance don’t want to watch every single entry and they don’t want to watch the same entry win in five different categories which sometimes happens. Still, I’d have a tough time telling you what the winning broadcast entries were this year – I never saw more than 15 seconds worth of any of them.

If the event is held again at Plush, there’s a big empty room when you initially come up the second floor steps. That would be a great place to have a big screen and maybe showcase the video and broadcast categories that didn’t win and then after the awards were handed out, you could show a winner’s reel.

Continuing to stick with that QR code idea … what if the same QR code that allowed you to see the work while at the show was included in the printing of the book?

I’m not saying they need to show every single finalist. But it would be nice if the book became a little more user-friendly. Think of it – technology being used to advance the art of advertising by allowing those of us who create the work and who bothered to come to the show to actually be able to see the work after the show has come and gone.

At the very least, it would be nice if the Ad Club considered making entrants provide the link to the work in the entry information. Right now, you have to google the winning entry and hope that the site is still live while trying to figure out if it’s a .com, .org, .gov or some other domain.

I’m all for the party and it was great seeing a lot of people that it seems that I only see at the ADDYs.

But it sure would be nice if the work, which is the reason for the party in the first place, were just a little more viewer-friendly.

I would drink to that.

Super Bowl 2014 commercials preview

I’m not going to do anything other than post this link – which you could have gone out and found yourself simply by googling Super Bowl commercials.

But now I’ve done it for you and you can get an advance look at some of the teasers and some of the commercials that will be coming your way during this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

So just in case you’ll be at a party and will be in the middle of a cheese dip or re-filling your drink cup, here’s a link for you to enjoy.


I’ll reserve judgment until next week and be back with my winners and losers.

Go Broncos!


World Serious money rolling in

While the Rams are wondering if their upcoming game might be the first ever blackout in the history of Monday Night Football, the rest of the St. Louis region is all abuzz about the World Series-bound Cardinals.

And for good reason. Each home game is expected to add more than $5 million to our St. Louis economy. If you look at the many ways we’re somehow spending time – and money – on the Cardinals, the impact may be far greater than that.

Of course there are the booked downtown hotel rooms, extending out into the county and spilling across the river onto the Illinois side. There’s all the downtown restaurants and bars, eager to cater to Cardinals appetites. Sports bars across the region will be packed with Bird-watchers and many a beer will be consumed. A-B InBev should notice a bump in sales – at bars, grocery stores and just about anywhere beverages are sold.

Cardinals employees have their season extended – and their paychecks. Same for concession stand employees, souvenir sellers, waiters and waitresses – they’ll all see more dollars coming their way thanks to the Cardinals. (Just imagine the added economic boost if the BallPark Village was open for business.)

But it goes well beyond that.

KTVI is thrilled with the added ratings points they’ll be generating, able to sell advertising air time at the end of October that will pull in way more dollars than if this were a Pittsburgh-Detroit match up. The mighty ‘MOX will get an added boost in ratings, as will the other sports talk radio stations and that spillover effect extends beyond the games – there’s more pre-game, post-game and day-after the game air time to sell – more people tuning in to talk radio to hear about Craig batting cleanup or if Shelby will get a start.

The Post-Dispatch is literally drooling at the prospect of more ad space to sell and people will actually buy the paper, even if it only is to read the Sports page. The scribes will have plenty to say and you’ll see countless ads wishing the Cardinals good luck in the Series – ads that were probably created locally – (that just means the creatives work later into the night, trying to come up with some clever way of saying, “Good luck, Cardinals”).

Companies that make banners are seeing a boost as businesses across St. Louis are wishing the Redbirds the best of luck while silk screen printers are running the presses as we speak, printing off World Series gear and probably coming up with some angle that promotes revenge on Beantown for that four-game sweep they inflicted on us last time these two teams met.

We’ll even see a run on Cardinals-related Halloween costumes – if there is a Game 7, it will be on Halloween night – possibly causing a run on Wacha-Wacha costumes or maybe we’ll see a few zombified, beard-wearing Red Sox imitators.

St. Louis will be getting national media attention. They’ll be showing our downtown skyline all lit up at night, giving the impression it’s like this all the time. (I wish it was.)

It’s all good for the St. Louis economy. Though we’ll all be decked out in Cardinals red, this region will be reveling in the color green.

So thanks, Cardinals.

And good luck on Monday night, Rams.

You’re going to need it.

Doubting The World’s Most Refreshing Can

I’m glad that A-B InBev is going after Coors Light for their claim of having the world’s most refreshing can.

I recently sampled a Coors Light in one of their refreshing cans. Best I could tell, it tasted like Coors Light. Granted, the can is capable of telling you when the beer is cold – when the can dips to a certain degree, the mountains turn more blue.

That’s not exactly a revelation, though. I’ve always been able to tell if a beer is frozen, ice cold, cold or just off a store shelf by holding the can. As for its double vented wide mouth, it does allow you to drink the beer more easily – so if you’re really thirsty, I guess that qualifies as more refreshing than a normal can.

Perhaps the only way to see if it is truly the world’s most refreshing can would be to put Bud Light (or any other beer for that matter) into a Coors Light can and if it made that beer taste better, then it would truly be deserving of the world’s most refreshing can claim.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Jonathan Stern, Miller Coors director of media relations claims that the A-B InBev allegations are a waste of the FTC’s and the National Advertising Division’s time, stating that the claim of the “World’s Most Refreshing Can” meets the standard for acceptable marketing puffery or that the claims are literally truthful.

One claim is that the cans “lock in frost brewed taste”. Yes, and when you open the can, that taste is unlocked. Brilliant.

The can also contains a “Frost Brew Liner”. I looked at the inside of the can and can’t tell exactly what liner they are referring to but I didn’t actually dissect the can to reveal its inner contents. If there is a “Frost Brew Liner”, I guess that’s also helping with this refreshing claim to fame.

A-B InBev has worked hard to make its claims for Bud Light as innocuous as possible. “Drinkability” would be a tough claim to topple. Yes, the beer is drinkable. There’s no puffery there.

When they began selling their “Bow-tie” cans, they didn’t claim that the cans did anything to the taste. They were just different. And different can lead to an occasional blip on the sales radar. These days, all the mainstream beers are thirsting for more blips as micro-brews and kiddie cocktails have left a lot of cans on the shelf for both MillerCoors and A-B InBev.

So now, the two beer behemoths have gone back to battling each other, protecting us gullible consumers from being duped into purchasing something that isn’t totally true. I’m glad they’re watching out for our best interests.

So,  “Here we go.” Let’s see how this one unfolds and remember, it’s what inside that counts.