Budweiser Changes Beer Into Water and Ruffles Some Feathers

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By: Casha Doemland

For 30 years, Budweiser's emergency water program has shipped more than 79 million cans of clean water for disaster relief.

To celebrate the big 3-0, Budweiser rolled out a heartwarming 60-second commercial for the Super Bowl. Skylar Grey's cover of "Stand By You" played softly in the background as we watched Kevin Fahrenkrog, general manager of Anheuser-Busch's Cartersville, Georgia brewery awaken in the middle of the night to switch gears from Budweiser’s traditional red beer cans to a classic white can with “water” in bold blue lettering and the Anheuser-Busch logo. A simple act that caused eyes around the nation to swell with tears.

To make things even sweeter, Skylar Grey is donating a portion of her proceeds from her single to the American Red Cross, a partner of Budweiser for more than 100 years.

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Phenomenal work, right?

While most applaud them for showcasing the importance of giving a hand to those around the country who need clean water following a natural disaster, Braxton Brewing Company and the voices of Twitter, can't help but question one thing. What if instead of spending north of $5 million an ad, Budweiser created a way for others to get involved or donated the money directly to the cause?  

For example, AB InBev aired another 30-second ad for Stella Artois during the Super Bowl. The big difference: Stella Artois incorporated Water.org, an organization co-founded by Matt Damon, and provided a quick and easy way for viewers to directly help the cause. The opportunity to give 5 years of clean water by purchasing a limited edition chalice and the incentive to research the nonprofit transcends the typical feel-good commercial.

So yeah, Budweiser’s self-congratulatory advertisement isn’t for everyone. They could have augmented the work they’re trying to do by getting the audience involved, allocating more resources or cutting the commercial altogether. Instead, Budweiser chose to tell a story. In 60 short seconds, the company gives itself a heartbeat and allows viewers to form a bond with the brand by celebrating a 30-year old journey most people don’t even know about.

That’s pretty damn memorable - and a great way to influence buyer behavior.