The Forbidden Fruit: How Do Companies Sell Hazardous Products?

Beer Ads: Drink ‘Till You Laugh?

In Drinks on February 26, 2011 at 17:24

Why don‘t you see drunk people in commercials for products that mostly do one thing: getting you drunk?
(image © Budweiser)

The latest Budweiser television commercial is a great example of how the beverage industry sells alcohol, especially beer. It appears that there is a very special logic to selling beer that seems to get by without a drop of alcohol.

Why is beer hazardous?

Beer is hazardous in at least two ways. First, beer is a calorie bomb with little nutritional value. Regular beer consumption can therefore contribute to an unhealthy diet and overweight. Second, the contained alcohol intoxicates the consumer and we all know about the effects of alcohol– you get drunk. Being drunk can result in a variety of behaviour that can vary on a scale from reasonable to downright stupid. Of course, these hazards are intensified when beer is consumed excessively.

How does Budweiser sell this hazardous product?

In its latest commercial, Budweiser tells the story of a dog sitter who finds himself left alone by the owner with a few incredibly smart dogs and a fridge full of beer and decides to throw a party during which everyone can indulge on the supplied beer.

What is interesting now is that throughout the whole commercial you do see people holding the Budweiser bottle, but nobody is portrayed actually taking a sip. Even more interesting, not a single person shows signs of being boozed. Instead, everybody appears to be absolutely sober and having a great time. And that appears to be an unwritten law for  most beer commercials. Instead of actually drinking beer, the protagonists of beer commercials are having a wonderful time without drinking.

Instead of a sip of beer, these people are having mostly one thing: fun. Oddly enough, this is true for all big beer brands, just think of Budweiser, Heineken or Carlsberg. As in Budweiser‘s dog-sitting commercial, these brands do not advertise beer, but fun and memorable evenings that are merely an excuse to portray the company‘s bottle.

How does Budweiser address the hazard?

Of course, Budweiser displays the “enjoy responsibly” disclaimer at the end of the commercial, but the other 27 seconds of the spot ignore the hazards of beer. As you can see neither obese nor drunk people in this ad, one comes to wonder if Budweiser actually knows what they are selling?


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