Can Zombies Sell Budweiser Beer?

Goodbye, Clydesdales. Hello, zombies!

The iconic Clydesdale horses that have been a part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (BUD) traditional advertising for generations apparently are out.

The Wall Street Journal reports the beer maker is dropping the Clydesdales from its ads and replacing them with millennials enjoying drinking its signature brew. The paper saying the company is making the move in an effort to attract 20-something drinkers who aren’t reaching for a bottle of the King of Beers much anymore, with almost half of those aged 21 to 27 having never even tasted a Bud.

But Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task has some serious questions about this strategy.

“I guess they want to do something different,” he says. “But Budweiser’s Super Bowl ads are always fantastic. The puppy and the horse one was amazing, it was a tearjerker. I don’t care how old you are, you can’t watch that and not be moved.”

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Task feels Budweiser’s difficulty isn’t the company’s marketing, it’s the product.

“The real problem is Budweiser isn’t a particularly good beer,” he says. “There’s so much better beer that’s available, which in large part has to do with the craft beer revolution that’s happening in this country.”

Task thinks for Anheuser Busch-InBev and other traditional brewers such as SAB Miller and Molson Coors (TAP) to get the attention of millennials, maybe they should take a page out of the playbook of another old-time beer.

“Pabst Blue Ribbon became very hip for a time with the kids because it was so out of fashion,” he notes. “It was like the beer your grandfather drank. And maybe that’s Bud’s best hope, to see it as a retro thing.”

But Task doesn’t expect that to happen.

“That is not how Bud sees itself,” he points out. “They don’t want to be the hip, fun kind of beer. They want to be your everyday beer.”

The paper cites one North Carolina bar that used a zombie-themed night with the beer dyed blood red to sell more Budweiser. But can zombies and other millennial-targeted promotions really do the trick? Task is dubious.

“The thinking is millennials like zombies so throw some zombies in there and you’ll sell beer,” he says. “Call me skeptical, but I don’t think that’s going to get it done.”


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