Thursday, January 28, 2010
In its push to broaden its market in America, Heineken necessarily took aim at beer-industry heavyweights such as Anheuser-Busch and its flagship brew, Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch, in addition to possessing an almost 50 percent market share of the country’s beer market, had an advertising budget far larger than those of its nearest competitors. Despite declining sales of Budweiser, the brewer continued to support the ‘‘King of Beers’’ with blockbuster ad campaigns in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Budweiser commercials featuring talking frogs that croaked ‘‘Budweiser’’ in combination with one another gave way to a competing cast of lizards and an evolving swamp-creatures storyline, and then Budweiser made an even bigger splash with ‘‘Whassup?!’’ a campaign featuring a group of friends who greeted one another using the idiosyncratic, slang question that gave the campaign its name. A true measure of Heineken’s success, in the eyes of industry commentators, was the fact that, during this time, Anheuser-Busch used a ‘‘Whassup?!’’ spot to poke fun at stereotypical Heineken drinkers, thereby acknowledging its much smaller competitor as a threat. In the commercial, preppy types greeted each other with a hyper-articulate rendering of ‘‘How are you doing?’’ while drinking beer from green bottles clearly meant to suggest Heineken. Corona Extra doubled its share of the American import market between 1995 and 2000, going from a 13.5 percent market share to 27.3 percent and overtaking Heineken as the country’s best-selling import. The brand’s marketing strategy, which attempted to make the Mexican beer synonymous with seaside relaxation and escape from the everyday, was widely credited with providing fuel for such rapid growth. Taglines such as ‘‘Miles Away from Ordinary’’ and ‘‘Go Someplace Better’’ ran in concert with beach scenery, as Corona extended its tried-and-true advertising formula into the early years of the millennium.