Big Beer Plays Dumb on Package Pirating

Staff Writer
What do Anheuser-Busch InBev's new beer labels say about craft beer as a whole?
The Drink Nation
Big Beer Plays Dumb on Package Pirating

Jim of Beer & Whiskey Brothers is writing a piece for Today.com about the similarities he (and many other drinkers) have noticed between Flying Dog’s signature "gonzo" branding and the packaging on a couple of relatively new A-B InBev labels.

As a recent Gallup poll confirmed, beer is slipping from its perch as Americans most-preferred drink, and beer sales are down overall. Craft beer sales, however, continue to rise. To steal share back from the independent brewers, Big Beer has begun to introduce what the Brewers Association terms "crafty" beer to market. For example, Budweiser Black Crown made its debut at this year’s Super Bowl, and A-B InBev also has a line branded "Blue Dawg Brewing."

It’s these last that are the subject of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers’ forthcoming article. That macrobrewing conglomerates are trying to copy and co-opt the craft beer market does not come as a surprise. What is somewhat of a shock is the audacity of the PR machine behind these huge companies.

When Jim reached out to A-B InBev’s media department for their side of the story — Are they copying Flying Dog on purpose? Do they know consumers have complained when they suddenly realize they’ve bought a macrobrew? — he received the following statement in reply [emphasis ours]:

"To suggest that there is any consumer confusion between Wild Blue Blueberry Lager and Flying Dog is a very great stretch of the imagination. Wild Blue is an award-winning blueberry lager that appeals to fans of premium fruit beer, and there is nothing in Flying Dog’s portfolio with a comparable taste profile.

As for the label design, comparing the whimsical blueberry-kicking dog on the Wild Blue label to any of the gothic canines found on Flying Dog is like comparing da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to a Picasso portrait — they may portray a similar subject but stylistically, there’s no confusing the difference. 

As the world’s largest brewer, we proudly brew and distribute a variety of brands, and each of our beers has its own identity and marketing strategy. If a consumer is surprised to learn that the beer they’re enjoying is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, it should be a happy discovery, because our brewing credentials and quality standards are second to none in the industry."

Excuse us while we go visit the porcelain goddess.

— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation

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