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Dreaming of a Budweiser Christmas

If you thought that beer was a Christmas taboo — think again.

December 25, 2001

If you thought that beer was a Christmas taboo — think again.

There was a time when you couldn’t categorize people. Back then, there was literally nothing written on them. The brand of their watches was too small to read, and the designers and manufacturers of their clothes sewed their labels on the inside, next to the care-for instructions.

That boring age lasted for most of recorded history. Only recently people began to wear sweaters displaying the name of their favorite sports clubs and their star players. Then came T-shirts with slogans. Then, designer clothing hit the stores, prominently displaying the name of the designer, whether it was DKNY, Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Benetton or Gap.

But the greatest coup of them all has been the ability of multinational corporations to place their brand names and logos on people’s clothing. If somebody wears your T-shirt, you get a free walk-around advertising space, as well as a kind of endorsement from an obviously satisfied customer.

That’s why Coke and Pepsi began giving out their T-shirts at concerts and other events as far back as the 1960s.

But in the commercialized decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the idea went much further. Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand according to the perennial survey by Interbrand, created a line of designer clothing and even opened its own stores. People were not only keen to plug Coke for nothing, but they were even willing to pay for the privilege! And not a little, either. Shirts on the Coke website retail for around $30, and T-shirts cost around $10.

But at least Coca-Cola is more than just a brand. It is a symbol of America everywhere on the globe. More recently, other companies have gotten into the merchandising game to promote their less famous and less innocent products. Such as Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser, America’s — and the world’s — largest-selling beer.

For this Christmas season, Budweiser sends out its “Genuine Collection” mail-order catalogue. There are plenty of items you’d expect from a beer brewer: about eight pages of various decorative and commemorative beer steins, a few dozen varieties of Budweiser glasses, and all sorts of pub paraphernalia-bar stools, pool cues, jukeboxes, neon signs, clocks and dartboards — all bearing the Budweiser logo.

But that’s not enough. The rest of the full-color, 56-page catalogue can fill even the most demanding Christmas list. This is what Anheuser-Busch clearly hopes you will do. For starters, the cover shows a wholesome young couple under a Christmas tree.

Although the two are already dressed head to toe in Budweiser clothing, they are eagerly opening even more gifts, all with the Budweiser logo emblazoned on them — all the while toasting each other with their bottles of Bud, of course.

In fact, there are so many different items in the catalogue, you could fill your entire life with every conceivable Budweiser merchandise. The sweatshirts, the T-shirts, the matching his and hers pajamas as well as the outerwear are just the beginning. There is a Bud watch and a Bud pen. Budweiser golfing supplies, Budweiser beach towels and a set of Budweiser steak knives. And you surely don’t want to miss out on exercise clothing bearing the logo of the “Budweiser Athletic Department.”

Believe it or not, you can even furnish your home with useful goodies featured in this formidable little booklet. You can buy a ceiling fan with blades shaped as beer bottles and an inflatable Budweiser couch. There is also a wooden rack for your collection of baseball hats, of which the catalogue offers about two dozen varieties.

Customers get a chance to promote not only Budweiser, but themselves as well. Many of the items can be personalized, so that you can wear a T-shirt that uses the famous Budweiser advertising slogan, “This Bud’s for You” with your name on it. In the advertising industry, this practice is known as cooperative advertising.

The Bud Light line of clothing, devoted to the reduced calorie beer, is the true symbol of a nation which has to be concerned about alarming levels of obesity as well as highest per capita consumption of diet products anywhere in the world. Amazingly, the Bud Light Beach Club sweatshirt doesn’t come in size small. On the other hand, it comes in XXL — extra-extra-large — but all those heavy people have to pay two bucks more.

Now, in the United States of America, kids and alcohol don’t mix. Family entertainment centers, such as theme parks, exercise a peculiar form of social engineering, discouraging adults from drinking in the presence of their children by not serving any alcoholic beverages.

Following that same logic, in order to get onto the Budweiser website (, you have to be “carded” — that is, plug in your date of birth, to make sure you’re over the legal drinking age of 21.

Given that there is no booze sold via the website, this typing exercise feels like a mere gimmick. If only it were so. In reality, the presumed “gimmick” provides valuable customer marketing data on the unassuming and trusting beer aficionado.

Needless to say, the Budweiser Christmas catalogue has no clothing for kids. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a Christmas present from the catalogue for the younger generation. There are miniature racing cars and Budweiser delivery trucks-not to mention a Budweiser Classic Train Set, selling for a whopping $380!

And, on the same page with the young, there is an offering for the old — a Collectible Walking Stick costing a more modest $69. You can trust Anheuser-Busch to make it a special Christmas for the whole family.