Budweiser is stabling its iconic Clydesdale horses this holiday season, and light beer, young people and Lime-a-Rita’s are to blame. The “King of Beers” is aiming for a younger crowd using Jay Z, food festivals and zombie-themed parties, but no horses.
Budweiser has seen a dip in popularity and sales the last 25 years, and its parents company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, said that 44 percent of 21- to 27-years-olds in America have never even cracked open a Budweiser before, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The beer giant went from selling 50 million barrels in 1988 to a mere 16 million in 2013, and light beers like Bud Light and Coors Light are responsible for part of the decline.
Because over 4.6 million people turned 21 last year, creating the biggest number of drinkers since the Baby Boom generation, Budweiser is setting its sights on those in their 20s to save its brand.
“After years of developing advertising and marketing that appeals to all ages, AB InBev plans to concentrate future Budweiser promotions exclusively on that age bracket. That means it will not trot out the traditional Budweiser Clydesdales for this year’s holiday advertising. It means February’s Super Bowl ads will feature something more current than last year’s Fleetwood Mac. It means less baseball and more raves with DJ group Cash Cash.”
And it does not sound like the breed of horses traditionally tied to the brand will be taking just a break, either.
The company’s vice president, Brian Perkins, said they have considered this change for quite some time, and called it a “long-term view of what will turn around the brand.”
But the Budweiser Clydesdales represent much more than just a lager.
In April of 1933, and in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition, August Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch told their father, August Anheuser Busch, Sr., he had a new car waiting for him outside the brewery, and when he got outside he saw two six-horse hitches of champion Clydesdales. Those were the 12 horses that carried the first brew of post-Prohibition beer from St. Louis, and since then they have been in heartwarming Super Bowl ads, led sleighs in the Rose Parade for over 50 years, and even showed up to a few presidential inaugurations.
Just last year, Budweiser’s Vice President Rob McCarthy said the mammoth-size horses were much more than just an advertising technique.
“They are the symbol of Budweiser, and they are the symbol of the company and, to many people, a symbol of the country. The spirit, the freedom of America is embodied in these majestic Clydesdales, and we are just so lucky to have them be recognized as part of Budweiser,” McCarthy said.
And what marketing genius is Budweiser replacing its horses with?
“Instead, this season Budweiser will air spots featuring people in their 20s looking directly into the camera and calling out friends’ names as a narrator asks ‘If you could grab a Bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?'”
— Budweiser (@Budweiser) November 16, 2014