The big brewers are feeling a bit of pressure to compete for the first time in decades as American drinkers are turning more to cocktails, wine, and craft beer rather than mindlessly chugging gallons of American light lagers. While the sales numbers for beers like Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller lite are still astronomically large the major breweries have seen steady declines in sales while their smaller, craft beer competition has experienced explosive growth.
The real competition is from the rising popularity of hard liquor whose success has made the craft beer revolution seem restrained by comparison. Yet Budweiser as a beverage is competing at the tap with local, regional, and national craft beers. Thus wanting to reclaim some of their lost market share the major brewers are turning to acknowledging and attempting to outshine craft beer.
Shock Top has found some reasonable popularity with the non-craft beer geek drinkers. They have found a market that wants a beer with a bit more punch than Bud Light but haven’t delved into craft beer enough to know that there is a whole world of great beer for them to drink. Shock Top, like Blue Moon, has found a popularity as being a better mass market beer that is marketed as being more craft than mass market. Many in the beer industry have taken to calling these types of beers “crafty” beers as they are marketed as craft without actually being so.
Shock Top has decided to go one further and actually challenge craft beer directly. In a new set of video advertisements they create a talking Shock Top tap handle that converses with customers at a carry out store and a bar. In a style that is reminiscent, but significantly less amusing, of Triumph the Insult Dog the Shock Top mascot “Wedgehead” acts like a bar regular ready to share a good night with patrons at the bar.
The new slogan for this campaign is “You know I’m a good beer, I know I’m a good beer, we don’t have to talk about it lets chat about something else” while the phrase “It speaks for itself” is emblazoned on-screen.
The commercials are a refreshing change from the typical Bud Light campaign but they speak to the nature of what the Shock Top brand is attempting to create. This is again all style over substance. Unlike a Sam Adams commercial that shows a passionate owner and brewers that have a real passion and love of the beer they are creating Shock Top has decided to mock that enthusiasm, that craftsmanship to instead suggest beer is beer, get me because Shock Top is iconoclastic and fun.
If the campaign stopped there with “Wedgehead” teasing “customers” into buying Shock Top I would have found the campaign mostly tolerable if warranting being largely ignorable. Yet the commercial above takes a direct shock at craft beer.
> “You guys know these beers…they’re trying too hard, you know what I mean? Fifteen names? Wildebeest Three Headed Unicorn? What *is *that? Seventeen varieties served in a fedora? Come on. I’ll do mine in a glass. And that’s the thing, you can’t even say glass. It’s an apparatus. Everyone is trying to be so fancy.”
I’m not one to be blind to the pretentiousness of craft beer but I think this is kind of ridiculous coming from the same company that sells a beer designed to get skunky for customers is decrying that craft beer brewers are too pretentious. We all need to settle down and drink a down to earth beer like Shock Top.
I found the commercials to be a bit forced and they missed the mark. While I’m all about laughing at beer and especially the nature of craft beer I found these videos a bit inauthentic and mean-spirited. I also found them to be highly ironic given that they are taking stabs at craft beer knowing they are attempting to sell a vastly inferior product and branding it as “cooler, more hip” than craft beer.
Check out the rest of the videos below: