Budweiser vs. Stella Artois: Battle of Rebranded Cans

Let me be transparent: I don’t drink beer from any of the macro breweries. But in the past couple of weeks there has been talk about two major can rebrands: One from Budweiser and one from Stella Artois, which both — interestingly enough — are owned by Belgium-based conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Beer memeLet me be transparent: I don’t drink beer from any of the macro breweries. To me, everything from Coors to Budweiser tastes like … nothing (sorry Dad!). I’m a craft beer kind of girl, and I’ll take Resurgence Brewing’ Co.’s IPA any day of the week (plus twice on Sunday).

But in the past couple of weeks there has been talk about two major can rebrands: One from Budweiser and one from Stella Artois, which both — interestingly enough — are owned by Belgium-based conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Let’s talk about Budweiser, oh wait, I mean America, first.

On May 9, Budweiser announced it was renaming its flagship beer from May 23 until the election, as well as changing up a number of other elements on the rebranded cans and bottles.

In place of “AB” is “US,” “E Pluribus Unum,” takes the place of “King of Beers,” along the bottom of the can “Liberty & Justice for All” replaces “Anheuser-Busch” and more.

Budweiser America canLast week, my colleague Taylor Knight wrote a really smart article about how Budweiser’s renaming to America was a pretty genius marketing move. She did a great job, but sadly, I’m still not buying it.

I understand Budweiser often reworks its label designs for the summer months in the US, especially playing around with July 4th being America’s birthday (check out this gallery of images). But a reworked label design is a different beast than renaming your two-for-one happy hour beer “America.”

I’m also a bit put off by the idea of the company capitalizing on the presidential election frenzy in the US. It just seems … icky.

But I’m not the only one not thrilled by this tactic … Michigan-based Saugatuck Brewery took to Twitter to share its thoughts (I’m sure someone there had fun with this …)

Then there’s Stella Artois, who commissioned BBDO Ukraine to design a limited edition series of cans in honor of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Stella Artois' rebranded cans to celebrate the Cannes Film Festival
When speaking to AdWeek, BBDO Ukraine’s Creative Group Head Denis Keleberdenko said:

“Story is what Stella Artois stands for. And traditionally Stella Artois supports the Cannes Film Festival, so we show a story that happens in Cannes, in four parts, for each can. There’s accidents, unexpected twists, a chase, drama, a beautiful woman, a kiss at the end and even a helicopter! It’s almost a film on cans, actually.”

What’s even cooler is, as mentioned in the video above, there are clues on each of the cans, which leads you to more stories that then come together as a web movie. That’s pretty cool.

For Stella, the can design has changed, but the name remains the same (and iconic). To be honest, I’m not a fan of this beer either (pilsners just aren’t my bag!), but looking at this campaign … it feels more authentic than Budweiser.

Resurgence Brewing Co.'s Resurgence IPA
Image courtesy of Buffalo Beer Chemist

But only time will tell! I’m curious if there will be an uptick in sales of either beer … or additional talk about them on social media. Nevertheless, I know the beer I’m bringing on my vacation to the Adirondacks this summer is going to feature a rather stately buffalo on its cans.

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

2 thoughts on “Budweiser vs. Stella Artois: Battle of Rebranded Cans”

  1. Craft beer ftw! Oregon was all about it when I lived there. But this is an interesting situation. Smart marketing that is for sure whether it hypes the election or not.

    1. I’m interested if the flack will be detrimental to the plan, or if Budweiser will see increased says nonetheless. That said, I still prefer the Stella campaign.

      (And yes, craft beer all the way! Cheers!)

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