A Decade of Beer Ads: The 1990’s

10 01 2010

Today is the fifth of a series of posts where we will hastily derive sociological statements about American Beer Culture through beer advertisements found on YouTube.

The 1990’s: American Prosperity As America began riding a wave of prosperity that began in the late 1980’s and continued through much of the 1990’s, beer ads became bigger, bolder, and brasher. Notice at this point,  American beer drinking ads are mainly for the big 3 macro breweries–Coors, Miller, and Budweiser. While imported and craft beers began taking up market share, the American beer scene had pretty much become a triopoly of the American lager companies. Ads became less about what it was like to drink the beer and much more about icons. The growth of the postmodern culture combined with inflated campaign budgets turned focus toward story lines, plot arcs, recognizable characters and special effects.

Coors Light had a series of ads in which they digitally reanimated John Wayne.

And Miller Lite had ads where there beer could magically bend time and space to make amazing things happen.

Miller Lite also tried to stand out by showing how their product has withstood the test of time. By using then state of the art morphing technology, they had their characters travel through time enjoying the beer.

As is a common theme in this series, the most popular ad campaigns came from Budweiser. Remember the Budweiser frogs?

Or what about these guys?

It has been about 10 years and people are still screaming “wazzup?!” at each other.

The 1990’s also saw the rise of Generation X. Those born in the mid 1960’s to 1970’s and had a reputation for slacking off, quoting pop culture and being “ironic.” Much like hipsters today, Gen Xers were a demographic that was extremely profitable–even if they did not want to admit it. Budweiser was the first to crack that demographic with their irreverent, ironic, and iconic ads.

Here is one with dialog straight out of an episode of Friends

Or from the failed Bud Dry campaign.

Coors Lite went for the more sexy route though. As Bud Lite had seen success with its Spudz McKenzie campaign, Coors attempted to market its lite beer in the similar vein: young, sexy, people drink Coors Lite.

The sexy beer ads got so much attention, Coors continues this campaign to the day. It even garnered a spoof on SNL with Schmitt’s Gay.




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