Budweiser beer will be renamed “America,” at least for a few months, because why not?
As USA Today reports, Saint Louis brewer Anheuser-Busch has changed the name of one of its most popular products, Budweiser, to “America,” beginning May 23 and lasting through the election this November.
— Matt Mauro (@mattmauro12news) May 11, 2016
In a statement via PR Newswire, Budweiser vice president Ricardo Marques explains that there’s a lot for Americans to be excited about this summer, and so the name change just makes sense.
“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. Budweiser has always strived to embody America in a bottle, and we’re honored to salute this great nation where our beer has been passionately brewed for the past 140 years.”
Besides changing the name on cans and bottles of Budweiser, the “America Is In Your Hands” campaign will also include murals, billboards, digital content, and other “special surprises.”
In fact, what Anheuser-Busch doesn’t like to tell consumers is that there’s actually not all that much that’s American about Budweiser beer.
Sure, it’s brewed in Saint Louis (among other places), but the company is owned by Belgium-based international conglomerate InBev. And as a small brewery in the Czech Republic has been trying to make clear for over a century, the name “Budweiser” originated in the Czech city of České Budějovice, where the Budweiser Budvar Brewery had been brewing a beer called “Budweiser” long before an American company bought the rights to the name.
As USA Today reported in 2012, in 1939 Anheuser-Busch bought the rights to the name “Budweiser” for sale in all of the American territories north of Panama. While that agreement has worked out just fine on this side of the Atlantic, in Europe it’s resulted in a patchwork of conflicting laws, where in some places the Czech beer is known as “Budweiser,” in some places it’s known as “Czechvar,” and the American beer is sold in some places as just “Bud.” Meanwhile, the Czech brewer insists that the only beer that should be sold anywhere in the world as “Budweiser” is beer produced in that particular corner of Eastern Europe.
Here in the U.S., Budweiser — like other mass-market beer brewers — has been contending with a larger problem than naming rights. As the American beer palate has matured, mass-market beers such as Budweiser are falling out of favor, as Americans gravitate toward more complex and flavorful craft beers brewed in smaller, local breweries.
Budweiser’s reaction to changing American tastes in beer has been rather defensive, according to the Huffington Post.
“Remember, this is the company that dropped the puppy from its Super Bowl commercials so it could run an ad mocking craft beer while claiming that Budweiser, in contrast, is ‘brewed the hard way.'”
Needless to say, reaction to the “America” name change has been less than complimentary on social media.
— Eric Steele (@ThatEricSteele) May 10, 2016
To be more accurate, Budweiser should put “Belgian Multinational Corporation” on its cans until November.
— Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) May 10, 2016
Still, according to Los Angeles Times writer Jessica Roy, a cold, frosty can of “America” just makes sense sometimes.
“And let’s be honest: It’s going to be tough to resist the allure of Instagramming yourself cracking open a can of ‘America’ at your Fourth of July party.”
How do you feel about Budweiser changing its name to “America” for the summer?
[Photo by Matt Cowan/Getty Images for Stagecoach]