Gratuitous substance-abuse observation

Can any marketing folk explain the reasoning behind Budwesier calling its new 30-can product a “family pack”? I mean, not all of the United States resembles rural Georgia. In fact, only rural Georgia does, although there are rural Arkansas and rural Kentucky to consider…okay, that’s not very nice, but if you’ve ever been to these places…
Anyway, this nomenclature seems to clash not only with common sense but with Anheuser-Busch’s own “drink responsibly!” campaign (although to brewing and distilling companies this message, when you get right down to the truth, is probably tantamount to “Throw back a case of beer every night, but go to work and stay out of trouble”). I’m thinking that next we’ll see Trojan produce a one-gross “promiscuity pack” of ultra-thin, self-unrolling, edible ribbed condoms and Phillip Morris offering 100-pack cartons of unfiltered brands with labels that boast “second-hand special.”

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  1. #1 by Bob on August 17, 2006 - 1:04 pm

    Two things:
    1) I believe you’ve confused product marketing. The 30 packs are now available as part of the Budweiser Family, that is Bud, Bud Lt, etc…not marketed to your family.
    2) Even if it were market towards family, that’s not necessarily bad. There is a growing body of eveidence that teens who learn to drink reponsibly at home have fewer alcohol related problems.

  2. #2 by Jim on August 17, 2006 - 1:22 pm

    Wait a minute, you’re saying that a quantity of beer is interchangeable with a type of beer? Do they consider 6 packs and 12 packs to be other members of the family? I find that odd.
    I have always maintained that there should be no drinking age. At all. Period. It was 18 when I was in college and it seems that the increase to 21 was primarily due to alcohol related car accidents. It may be that although we trust a 20 year old to vote for president or carry a weapon in our wars, we cannot trust them to drive and use alcohol. It seems to me that the solution should be based around the item that is easier to control, namely, the car. It is relatively easy for an underage person to get their hands on alcohol. It is comparatively difficult for this same person to get their hands on a car. The real problem seems to be the combination of inexperience at both. Thus, I would much rather have a bunch of 14 year olds drink their faces off behind the school gym and puke until they turn green, because they CAN’T get behind the wheel, unnlike their 16-18 yo brothers. After a few experiments of this nature they’ll get the idea, and hopefully, any social pressure to drink will be gone by the time they can legally get behind the wheel. If you remove the “bad boy image”, they won’t follow. It’s just not cool enough. Heck, if all women were forced by societal norms to always wear gloves, don’t you think Internet porn sites would feature BARE HANDS? Homer says “Hmmmm… nice knuckles… slobber slobber…”

  3. #3 by keithneun on August 17, 2006 - 2:18 pm

    Bob is correct.
    Also, a lot of promotional packaging (e.g., world cup, seasonal, etc.) is marketed to distribs as AB or Bud family with family referring to the varieties, not the consumers.

  4. #4 by Kevin Beck on August 17, 2006 - 2:27 pm

    Does anyone think it is perfectly natural to assume, as I and this guy
    http://www.omarphillips.net/weblog/archives/2005/10/dad_can_we_get_bud_light.html
    did, that the purveyors of a box of 30 beers that bears the words “family pack” intend for buyers to “feed” the whole family? Anheuser-Busch has a pretty fair-sized ad budget, and I’m pretty sure they were aware of the obvious double entendre before they started releasing their “family” line of products.

  5. #5 by keithneun on August 17, 2006 - 4:15 pm

    I can see that, but “family” is empirically marketing and distributor language. The fact that it gets carried over to a point of sale display is unfortunate. You certainly won’t find that message in any ad campaigns funded by AB, SABMiller or Molson-Coors. The most important target for macrobrews is generally males age 21-29 (or 34) who drink six or more beers per week. Beer brand is a badge and a “family” brew would simply not be a competitive image.

  6. #6 by Jim on August 17, 2006 - 5:12 pm

    “Family” may be market-speech, but to the rest of the English-speaking world it denotes something else. I think “double entendre” is the key here. I’d wager that if you took 100 people off the street and showed them this, their reaction would not be “Family? As in a line of beer products?” I mean, if it says “Bud” on it, doesn’t that convey the fact that it’s part of a Bud product line? Miller doesn’t print “Bud” on their boxes do they? “Family” is redundant in this respect.

  7. #7 by Amy P. on August 17, 2006 - 7:20 pm

    A family pack of putrid swill! Rejoice!

  8. #8 by Bill from Dover on August 17, 2006 - 9:59 pm

    Say what you will, but the first thing that came to mind was Joe the Camel. I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe that with the marketing budgets of these behemoths, something as obvious as this just fell through the cracks.

  9. #9 by keithneun on August 17, 2006 - 11:55 pm

    I have just a few more thoughts:
    1) Joe Camel isn’t the greatest analog because we’re not talking about a campaign.
    2) The term “family” referring to a set of brand varieties is used in other, unrestricted packaged goods categories like soft drinks.
    3) In my experience, the size of an advertising and promotion budget is not well correlated with shrewdness or intellect. I can’t tell you how many naming, claim, or concept tests I’ve worked on where formulating and vetting the name, claim, or concept ends up being the lowest priority.
    I’ll have to ask around a bit to confirm this, but signs like this one are likely the responsibility of local distribs. Corporate marketers incent the promotion, but distribs end up executing it and they (distribs) are likely even less concerned about how copy reads in a C-store window sign.
    I’m really not trying to be an apologist for big American brewers. It’s a slowly shrinking, dog-eat-dog category with plenty of incentive to make lousy moral choices. I just don’t see this as one of them.

  10. #10 by Ben on August 24, 2006 - 2:22 am

    When I was in university I had a pair of roommates who would buy a 30-pack of Miller Lite, and they called it a family pack. They set up the challenge of drinking their family pack in one night (with no outside help). After a few weeks of rigorous training they reached their goal.

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