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Bud Light and the beervolutionary wars

Waging battle on corn syrup could backfire

February 5, 2019

8:23 PM

5 February 2019

8:23 PM

When historians reflect on Superbowl LIII, what will they say? They might look upon Adam Levine’s tattooed body and despair. They might bemoan the absence of excitement in an utterly forgettable game between the predictable champions and a transplant franchise with four fans. But what should be noted by all scholars of the period, is the first shots fired in the Great Light Beer War.

Bud Light, continuing its largely successful Medieval Times-themed campaign, decided to take the fight from the fake Game of Thrones jousting fields to its light beer competitors. In an admittedly not-bad-for-a-beer-company commercial, the king ventures across the realm, stopping at various competitors’ castles to give them their corn syrup.

Now usually, I don’t mind the whole ‘dilly dilly’ shtick: it’s self-aware and even when they steal their slogans from the British Labour party, it works. But who is their attack on corn really directed at?

As presidential candidates around Iowa primary time will tell you, if you come for corn, you better not miss. Big Corn is a huge lobby that represents farmers all across the Midwest, presumably some of whom drink Bud Light. If making corn look bad is going to make those guys irate, who is it actually going to impress?

Regular drinkers of Bud Light and the rest of the light beer family (frat boys, post-college finance bros and fans of Barstool Sports) probably couldn’t even tell you the name of their congressman, let alone what’s in the golden nectar they drink from pitchers and Solo cups. Ask half of them whether they think it has corn syrup in and they would stare blankly.

And that’s the real issue here. No-one who drinks it cares whether or not Bud Light contains corn syrup. In the same way that if you eat a Chicken McNugget, you do so knowing full well you may be consuming gristle, anuses and everything in between, you drink Bud Light completely oblivious to the ingredient list, brewing process or history.

Those who care about whether corn syrup is infesting their beer would turn their noses up at everything cheaper than a PBR. They will never be Bud Light drinkers: so why is Anheuser-Busch choosing to die on a hill for people who resent their very existence in the beer industry?

Bud Light could have taken one of many avenues to start a new 100 Beers war. You could chasten Coors for basing their whole brand identity on the fact that, unless it’s -50 degrees, their beer is undrinkable. You could attack the brazen hubris of Miller for having the sheer nerve to call High Life the ‘Champagne of Beers’. But to go after corn syrup, which is largely immaterial to how good or bad for your light beer is, might be a bridge too far for the Bud Light Knight and his quest to be relevant.

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