The Bud Flag Can and Patriotic marketing.

I have the pleasure of sitting next to Shane Knight, a Veteran of the War in Iraq.  Shane is from Texas, a great Art Director and great to get a different view on things.  We were talking about this limited edition Bud Flag can and I think it is an interesting prop in several different stories to live by.

At first glance I thought this was an excellent idea.  One of Budweiser’s core brand associations is its American-ness and this can is a great reminder of that.  After seeing this can anyone would say “That reminds me that Bud is the American beer.”  I’m sure a lot of domestic drinkers like to “live” a story in which they support America and American workers by purchasing American products or prefer “good home beer” from the States.  The can debuted on Memorial Day and A-B is launching a nationwide happy-hour event on Flag Day to promote its new veteran fundraising program.

(As an aside, marketers have questioned the ability for A-B to do this kind of marketing post sale to South African beverage co. InBev.  Read more about it here.)

(Updating my error.  A-B is owned by InBev who is headquartered in Belgium and run by Brazilians.)

Speaking with Shane though one aspect of this marketing idea didn’t sit well with me: The launching of the can on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day has always been a strange story for me.

One one hand it represents  the start of summer (and for Bud that’s an obvious kick-off to an occasion with which they would like to be associated with – lots of volume).  Memorial Day equals BBQs, backyard drinking and lots of parties under the sun.

On the other it is the most somber of National holidays.  Memorial Day equals the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery and a day on which we should not party.

It sounds like the whole program is grounded in Bud’s new fundraising program for Vets.  I’d like to know more about it (googling it did no good – shame on you A-B).  Will funds go to the families who have lost a Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Son or Daughter too?

Honoring Veterans is a good idea.  It is “on brand” for them (a newly defined role in society that syncs with and scales the “This Bud’s For You” sentiment).  It feels more real to me.  I can envision Vets getting together and re-connecting.  I can see people buying a Vet a Bud.  No doubt some Vets will get together over a Bud to remember fallen friends but that story doesn’t seem to be the dominant one here.

Isn’t this effort a better fit for Veteran’s Day?  Logically yes.  But you can just hear the meeting in St. Louis, “Veteran’s Day is in November.  We need a summer promotion.”

Net net I wouldn’t have launched it on Memorial Day.  Despite the fact that Americans use Memorial Day as a ritualistic day of drinking and BBQs, as a brand manager I’d pass and launch it just after.  Honoring our fallen Heroes isn’t a marketing opportunity (even if it presents itself as one).  I’d launch it right after.  They still would be a part of the summer party.  I’d still do the Vet fundraising program. But I’d make sure it benefitted both Vets and the families of those who’ve been killed in action.

Where do you come out on this one?


"The Bud Flag Can and Patriotic marketing." by Scott
Posted in Brands Enabling Stories on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
  • Guest

    How do they get away using the likeness of an American Flag in an advertising campaign? Isn’t this expressly forbidden by Federal Law in the United States?

    • Navy7

      The Flag Code is a codification of customs and rules established for the use ofncertain civilians and civilian groups. No penalty or punishment is specified in thenFlag Code for display of the flag of the United States in a manner other than asnsuggested. Cases which have construed the former 36 U.S.C. u00a7 17521 have concluded that the Flag Code does not proscribe conduct, but is merely declaratory and advisory. 2221 have concluded that the Flag Code does not proscribe conduct, but is merely declaratory and advisory. 22

      • Dgolferd

        True, there is no penalty, but the flag code does state, in u00a7176. Respect for flag:u00a0 (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

        • B-Higgz

          but how is the idea of the flag printed on a can any different than paper plates, cups, cell phone covers, or bug deflectors on trucks. it is simply a promotion of national pride and should not be over thought. no one likes our american brews controlled by foreign countries but their allowance to keep our image of it must be considered. would the same critical attitude be taken if some privately owned microbrew in the midwest put the colors of the flag on their bottles, i dont think so.

    • Anonymous

      I think it’s arguable that this is not a “likeness of the flag”–it contains similar design elements, but doesn’t look exactly like the US flag.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting. u00a0What law? u00a0I don’t know if someone manages the government’s iconography. u00a0Does the governmentu00a0license its iconography?nu00a0

  • stlouis>all

    First of all, InBev is the result of a merger between theu00a0company from Belgium, Interbrew, and the Brazilian company, AmBev. South African Brewing Company owns Miller. Tsk tsk mistaking Budweiser for it’s former American counterpart, Miller. Secondly, who said these cans were soley based on a marketing campaign targeting justu00a0Memorial Day? Afterall, the 4th of July is only a little over a month after Memorial day, a pretty patriotic holiday in my opinion. Before you write a blog like this, gather information and know what you’re talking about.

  • Anonymous

    Tsk tsk indeed. u00a0My screw up. u00a0I threw in that as an aside without double checking. u00a0Shameful.nnRe: My point above was about the questionable launch period of the program (Memorial Day weekend). u00a0Sure, the flag concept fits with the 4th, but the 4th doesn’t logically fit with the more substantial idea that underpins the flag can, the Veteran’s program. Ballpark strategic thinking. u00a0Too lazy.u00a0u00a0

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  • Dave

    Lay the can on it’s side and view the budweiser label, what does the word in the top right corner of the picture say?  It looks like the word Australia. Cool that’d be right!       Dave Ozzie.

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  • Billy

    This is against the law. Look up flag code, Winners!

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