Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bud's TV ad: Anthemic or Anemic?

I finally got some time to watch the Olympics today-- and I thoroughly enjoyed the US men's swim team's world-record-setting performance in the prelims of the 4x100 relay... Although I managed to miss their final smackdown of a certain snarky Frenchman and his pals in the medal event. Gotta get TiVo.

One thing I managed to see, though, is the latest Budweiser TV spot, called "Anthem".

There are lots of images of hard-working Americans and baseball games and such, narrated by a kind of Mellencamp-Lite soundtrack, with lyrics like "This is what I believe in."

I was struck by the peculiar timing of this kind of theme in their marketing. This sweeping, corn-fed, heart-massaging parade of Americana is being trotted out close on the heels of the company's sale... to the Belgian company InBev. Does their marketing department not realize how smarmy and disingenuous this ad could seem after selling out to a foreign country? Were they not paying any attention to the substantial backlash stirred up by the sale? I imagine that they had long planned on running the ad during the Olympics, which is natural. But I hope they at least had second thoughts about running it so soon after the citizens of St Louis and much of the rest of the country felt a sharp stabbing pain in the back.

But I digress (like mad). The thing that really caught my eye during the Anthem spot was an overhead shot of a football field filled with some sort of drill team with cards, spelling out a word. (And remember those lyrics: "This is what I believe in.")

I was glancing up and down between computer and television at the time... but I could have sworn that word they'd spelled was... TIBET.

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. Could Anheuser-Busch actually have the stones to make a statement like that? Aren't they all over the Chinese market now?

Surely they spelled something else.

So I Gargled for the spot, and eventually found a video clip.

The word?


Then the layers of irony started landing on me like a division's worth of Chinese Army surplus sleeping bags.

The cowards at Fiat folded like a diagram in a Chilton's Repair Guide when China threw a tantrum about the Lancia ad starring Richard Gere, in which the actor/activist manages to drive the car to Tibet. Instead of delivering a non-apology, Fiat bowed and scraped to the People's Republic of Human Rights Violations.

So, of course, it was too much to ask that Budweiser grow a pair and step up.

Then again, I guess this might say more about my wishful thinking than about socially-comatose corporations. Looks like it was nothing more than an acute case the mind seeing what it wants to see.

But... wouldn't it have been mind-blowingly great?

1 comment:

Courtney said...

OK, I am so glad that I'm not the only one who saw that!!! Are you sure about Liberty? My stupid DVR erased the opening ceremonies so I was unable to go back and check it.

Even so, at least I'm not the only one who is delusional.