Monday, April 25, 2005

Swill merchants clog the NBA playoff airwaves with propaganda; Goebbels reported to be spinning in grave.

The opening weekend of the NBA playoffs has provided the opportunity for the Curmudgeon’s annual cautious glance into the Lower Depths – not Maxim Gorky’s seminal text or the exceedingly poor free throw shooting of the otherwise brilliant Spurs, but the current condition of televised beer advertising.

After watching all or part of eight first-round games, we’re pleased to note that this spring’s crop of beer ads is as relentlessly idiotic and comprehensively patronizing as in previous years.

Analysis will be confined to the major thematic contributions of the Big Three as presented on all networks during all times of day. There have been the stray Heineken “all about the beer” and Corona “Cinco de Mayo” advertisements, but the marketing bulldozers manned by Budmillercoors remain the dominant vehicles of beer disinformation.

“When beer starts out this cold, it ends up this refreshing.”

With Coors and Molson equally insipid, and now floor-stacked together in your favorite supermarket’s NAFTA aisle, Rocky Mountain spring water has been deemed unacceptable for brewing if it does not arrive in the brewhouse frozen solid. Presumably, it is no longer necessary to heat water for mundane purposes like the mash and the boil; instead, a frozen beer concentrate I-V drips thimbles into vats, one spoonful per metric ton of the Silver Bullet.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, in a query worthy of Aquinas or Ignatius J. Reilly, SAB Miller asks: “How do we (Miller Lite) get more taste than Bud Light with half the carbs?”

(a) By spending 150 years perfecting (our) brewing craft?
(b) By spending 150 minutes praying at the grave of saintly Doc Atkins?
(c) By spending 150 gajillion dollars in advertising each year?

The answer isn’t (a) or (b).

The execs at SAB Miller apparently didn’t receive the memo, because carb obsession is passé, and so is the company’s empire of liteweight wet air. The techniques of industrial mass production perfected by America’s megabrewers are not to be confused with quality in any meaningful aesthetic sense, so all that remains is to confuse craftsmanship in the artisanal realm with efficiency in the manufacturing sphere.

However, SAB Miller uses an entirely different ad campaign to remind us that someone in its agency once happened to be walking through Barnes & Noble and “saw” (not to be confused with “read”) Garrett Oliver’s wonderful book “The Brewmaster’s Table,” so if you can’t snag ‘em with low carbs and raw fear, then co-opt the concept of beer as accompaniment to food, as in this swill shill:

“When it comes to food, you need a light beer thaSCCRAAATCHHHH.”

No, you don’t “need” a light beer, with food or anything else. Drink the iced water – at most restaurants, it’s free, and it has fewer carbs than Lite and Bud Light combined, along with all the lack of real beer flavor that you’ve become accustomed to confusing with real beer.

After all, you’re an American, “taste loss” is chronic, and having a clue has nothing to do with it.

Speaking of 800-lb flag-waving gorillas, just guess who is making this observation about the state of the world economy?

“The only major American brewery that’s still American-owned (because) the greatest country in the world deserves the best beer in the world.”

(a) Paul Wolfowitz
(b) Lee Greenwood
(c) The management of the Louisville Bats
(d) Anheuser-Busch

Leave it to the St. Louis-based but globally active Anheuser-Busch to joyously play the Xenophobia Card, and by doing so, manage to lower the bar of the beer ad war even further.

Look ahead to the critical summer sales season for A-B’s next round of chest-thumping ads, including “Miller Lite: Official Beer of Apartheid” and “Coors: Abetting Canadian Pacifism since 2005,” both set to debut on July 4.

Perhaps it’s true that consumers of swill have a higher tolerance for disingenuousness than that of other demographics, but it does not require an advanced degree to understand that multinational players like A-B play any and all angles of the world economy to their advantage on an hourly basis.

A-B has a perfect right to feel patriotic about its various acquisitions and partnerships worldwide and the neo-colonial awe that Budweiser’s availability from China to Peru to Greenland tends to inspire on those for whom beer is a commodity.

Although none of this should be mistaken for craft, flavor or a particularly valid reason to launch pre-emptive wars, beer advertisements espousing unthinking patriotism as a compelling reason for frenetic buying certainly fit the temper of the times.

That’s very, very sad.

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