Monday, February 02, 2015

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

The Super Bowl means very little to me.

Back when the NFL was all about mud, blood and grizzled steelworkers gouging each other’s eyes out – on and off the field – I sometimes paid attention, but these days, not so much.

It’s true that I've never been a diehard football fan at any level. The last college game I saw in its entirety ("watched" would be insinuating a level of unattainable sobriety) was the last one I attended in person, a University of Louisville game in the late 1980's.

Professional football has slightly more appeal to me, and yet in recent years, I've seldom bothered viewing more than a quarter or three until the playoffs start. This year, I paused long enough to watch the very end of the fourth quarter when the Packers imploded, and that’s it.

As an aside, it occurs to me that my disinterest in football has been cemented by the increasingly well-documented phenomenon of brain injuries and the regrettable, lifelong physical toll suffered by players. We have ever more concise medical insight into these injuries, and how they impact lives after football, often explaining erratic adulthoods and the onset of dementia at impossibly youthful ages. How can anyone watch this sport without pondering the human toll?

That said, it’s the Super Bowl, and just as one stands for rote readings of the Pledge of Allegiance without ever thinking about what any of it really means, or whether the content actually matters at all, I watched a few minutes of the first half. Periodically I’d glance at the Twitter feed in my usual, once-yearly and entirely futile effort to comprehend the phenomenon of mass market advertisement envy.

It transpired that at some point during the first half, there was a Budweiser commercial with a puppy. I yawned and gulped my gin even faster.

Seeing as I’d already booked my own Super Bowl halftime show via the good offices of YouTube (Kasabian at Glastonbury, 2014 – an excellent choice), the television volume was turned all the way down, and so I didn’t catch what Carlos Brito’s mutts were doing or saying, although in the predictable time warp of my cultural appreciation, ancient notions of forcibly neutering Spud McKenzie came bubbling to the surface.

Thus aroused to wax cynical, I posted a tweet and went to bed to read a damned book.

And while you're scoffing at Budweiser's ads, always remember -- and never forget -- that Goose Island IS Budweiser! #trojangoose

On Monday morning, I groggily awoke to mass annoyance over AB InBev’s Super Bowl ad, as summarized in this tweet from a friend:

If Budweiser thinks craft beer is pretentious, why are they buying up all those craft breweries?

I was confused.

Were the puppies I'd silenced actively denouncing Jim Koch, or more likely, urinating into a Lagunitas tumbler?

Neither, because as it turns out, my throwaway #trojangoose tweet proved unintentionally prescient. During the second half, AB InBev lobbed a potshot at what Ad Age ineptly describes as “fruity micro-brews and beer geeks.”

Budweiser stole the Super Bowl pregame with a cuddly, cute puppy. But the King of Beers came out swinging in its second Super Bowl spot with a hard-hitting approach that proudly declared the nation's third-largest beer as a "macro" brew. The ad, which aired for the first time during the game, also revived the old "This Bud's For You" tagline that will anchor a new campaign to replace "Grab Some Buds."

The campaign's debut ad is notable for its swagger. The spot, by Anomaly, takes what appear to be shots at fruity micro brews and beer geeks. Bud is "brewed for drinking, not dissecting," the ad declares over footage of three men who are caricatures of beer snobs. Then comes this: "Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we'll be brewing us some golden suds."

Fans of better beer immediately took to social media to return AB InBev’s backhanded compliment, showering the multinational brewing conglomerate with amusing abuse centering on the notion of all-encompassing hypocrisy, because after all, AB InBev possesses its own product lines brimming with fruity mockrobrews, and besides, it is conjuring Zombie Craft beer subsidiaries (those pesky Trojan Geese again) faster than GOP presidential hopefuls book their flights to Iowa.

But why is anyone surprised? It's not like AB InBev ever possessed a moral compass. The Pour Fool explains:

… In their everyday actions at limiting the growth and distribution of craft beers, AB/InBev shows the hollowness of their claims of being a friend of brewers everywhere and big fans of craft beer. They’re fighting craft on dozens of fronts simultaneously, from Florida’s ongoing dust-up over allowable growler sizes (Bud and its associated brands and not, of course, growler-fill items) to its bloodthirsty attempts to obfuscate the issues in South Carolina’s bid to get a Stone satellite brewery and pub in Charleston. Anyone who thinks for a second that AB’s goal in acquiring Elysian, Goose, 10B, and Blue Point is anything other than an attempt to either control or kill craft beer simply doesn’t know history or is so spiritually vacant that they can easily rationalize away all that messy fluff like business ethics and morals and customer loyalty and independence and American entrepreneurship and what’s right and wrong. For those empty meat sacks, “It’s all about the beer, man!” and they areexactly the brain-dead geese AB relies onto keep their markets profitable and their ink black.

This part will be on the test: When I issued my random tweet last night prior to the offensive ad, I intentionally capitalized the word “IS,” and am underlining it in today’s column, because it helps to clarify AB InBev’s seeming hypocrisy. Think of it as the doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) is the change whereby, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ.

Consequently, it isn’t at all hypocritical of AB InBev to savage “craft” beers and beer geeks, because the products AB InBev peddles from its own specialty portfolios are no longer “craft” beers even if “beer geeks” still embrace them. In actual reality, they ARE Budweiser. The evil empire’s theological rationale is impeccable, and by the standards of multinational corporate logic, even unimpeachable.

When you drink Bourbon County Stout, you ARE drinking Budweiser.

However, the situation is not without consolation. The doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation points to a noticeable flaw in ad agency thinking, because in this scenario, lifted straight from Aquinas's scrolls, beer “geeks” are not being pretentious.

Just painfully naïve.


Last week's column: Getting our SHIFT together … again.

The week before: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”

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