Between putting out fires and promoting fascism, Budweiser has had a wild few days

Illustration for article titled Between putting out fires and promoting fascism, Budweiser has had a wild few days
Photo: Jiangang Wang (Getty Images)

Examining the behavior of brands is a bit of a pastime here at The Takeout, both because corporate shenanigans are occasionally newsworthy and because brands will do seemingly anything to stay relevant, including opening large storefronts in the midst of a pandemic. So, when we learned that, within the same seven-day period, a man in California had used a case of Bud Light to put out a wildfire and Anheuser-Busch surreptitiously promoted fascism on the social media accounts of both Budweiser and Bud Light, we took note.


The first story, which came to us via the California news station KCRA, involves a Vacaville, California resident named Chad Little, who, having lost his home to an attic fire five years ago, and seeing wildfires encroaching on his almost rebuilt property (which includes his place of business), decided that he was unwilling to pack up and run. With the outdoor water on his property unexpectedly turned off, Little relied on the only liquid available to him: a case of Bud Light. Using an old nail to puncture the cans, he somehow held the flames at bay and summarized the situation with the following on-air quote: “My buddy is always teasing me about drinking water beer and I say, hey, it saved my shop.”

The second story, courtesy of Newsweek, involves a now-deleted tweet published on Monday that read, “Reject modernity, embrace tradition.” Given that Budweiser’s main selling point is, more or less, that it always tastes the same, and that craft beer is the work of hipsters and devil worshipers, this sentiment wasn’t so surprising. What was surprising was that someone on Twitter happened to notice that Budweiser’s tweet seemed to directly reference Umberto Eco’s definition of fascism. As written by Newsweek, “Author Umberto Eco, who grew up under Benito Mussolini’s fascist reign, published Ur-Fascism in 1995. The first two of Eco’s common elements of Fascism, are the cult of tradition and the rejection of modernism.”

One can only wonder what mischief Budweiser will get up to in the coming days. A full-throated defense of phrenology? A Budweiser-branded fire plane? I, for one, can’t wait to see what comes next.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)



That particular slogan has been part of an on again off again attempted ad campaign for Bud for a while now. A while back they decided their best approach would be to directly shit on craft by mocking hipsters and hammering “tradition”. Part and parcel of their faux real America schtick with renaming the beer “America” for the forth of July limited release flag cans and seasonal releases claiming to be based on fake recipes from George Washington.

The initial announcement of the “reject modernity” campaign went over like a lead balloon as the whole thing was just mean spirited and left them wide open to attacks over the traditions adjunct lager created in the 70's and all the older brands they murdered during consolidation. “Reject quality” and “Reject Flavor” was a big reply. I dunno that they ever actually launched the thing or aired any ads, just announcements in ad industry and beer industry press. I recall an video with pickup trucks and derisive mentions of tofu and man buns.

I’m a little surprised they’re giving it another go. And while I don’t think for a minute that the fascist connotations occurred to them. I think they were too clueless to check.

I *do* recall them having been called out for it before. As well as for the overall fascisty beer for white conservatives schtick they operate under.