Originally published 9/26/2004, updated 11/11/2004.
Anheuser Busch is back again this football season with its corporate advertising philosophy that Animal Cruelty = Beer Sales. Last year we had the distasteful Bud Light ad where Cedric the Entertainer was wooing a girl in a limo and the girl puts her tiny dog on the lid of the pop-up cooler. The cooler lid pops up, the poor dog sails up through the open moon roof and then hurtles back down, missing the moon roof and landing cruelly on the roof of the limo with a whimper. I emailed Anheuser Busch about the inappropriateness of that ad at the time and received a very tepid email in response about how they felt the ad was humorous to their audience.
Well, perhaps I only encouraged them. I can hear the advertising brainstorm session now: “Gee, if a woman doesn’t like it, maybe we’re doing something right!” Maybe they didn’t believe me when I said Engineerboy hated it, too. Because this year they’re back with more Cruel Animal Ads! Two cases in point, plus an added bonus I just recently discovered:
- A man, without telling his girlfriend*, takes her tiny Pomeranian* to a Frisbee-catching competition. The dog, too tiny to really hold onto the Frisbee, tries anyway and ends up being hurtled spinning through the air by the Frisbee instead of being able to really catch it. Then a large Doberman comes along and catches the poor Pomeranian in its jaws. The poor pitiful Pomeranian whimpers as it’s caught in the Doberman’s mouth. Let me emphasize something here… a Doberman’s jaws could easily kill a dog as small as a Pomeranian. An ad such as this isn’t engaging in funny hyperbole or make-believe, it’s disgusting cruelty… and for what… to sell beer? (*Editor’s notes: I recently re-saw this ad and realized that his girlfriend does know that he entered her dog in the contest, but she doesn’t approve. And for those of you who may have read the earlier version of this article, the dog was originally mis-identified by me as a Pekinese, but I got a write-in that it’s a Pomeranian).
- A football referee has made a bad call during a football game and he’s being mercilessly yelled at by one of the coaches. The commentator describes the event by saying that the referee is being “beaten like a rented mule”. What a horrible, horrible turn of phrase! Who would possibly okay that in the script for this commercial? Aren’t there a million other things they could’ve picked for that there, other than referring to someone horribly beating an animal?! Isn’t that a fabulous phrase for the company that does all those majestic ads with those beautiful Clydesdales? Why not make fun of retarded people, maybe, or the homeless? Maybe we could make jokes about a particular racial group… that could be real fun. I’m thinking that would be a real step forward for Budweiser. And, to top it off, at the end of the commercial, it shows the referee at home being yelled at mercilessly by his wife and she mentions how the cat litter box hasn’t been cleaned out for three weeks. So it’s good to know we’re not only cruel to large animals, we’re callous and uncaring toward our housepets at Anheuser Busch, as well.
- Recent addition!A new Bud Light ad also has a window cleaner making windows so clean that a bird flies into it and knocks himself out. I swear they really can’t come up with anything they consider funny unless it involves hurting an animal.
Well, whether or not Anheuser Busch and the advertising morons at Budweiser believe women are football fans, or whether or not they think they buy beer (I do occasionally, mostly at baseball games but occasionally at dinner or out at a bar), this particular set of consumers is no longer going to buy anything from the Busch companies. If I need to buy a nice cold beer from the vendor at Minute Maid Park, it’ll be a Miller Lite. If I get a beer at a bar, it’ll be a Shiner Bock or a Harp. And since Anheuser Busch owns Sea World, I’ll probably give that place a pass in the future. I sure hope those animals are treated better than the poor animals in the Budweiser ads.
The thing that amazes me is that in this world filled with creative people, Anheuser Busch can’t come up with any better way to sell beer. Miller Lite has some hilarious new commercials out now that don’t involve any casual cruelty to animals — the referees that come into the everyday situations and throw penalties are pretty funny (“Uh oh, definite unibrow. That’s a no second date penalty.”) Those are clever and aren’t hurting anyone besides a little male ego, and that’s fair game during a football commercial, as far as I’m concerned. I think Budweiser could stand to learn a few lessons.