Independent brewers 'seek $213bn to Take Craft Back’ in tongue-in-cheek campaign

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

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The campaign seeks to crowdsource $213bn to purchase AB InBev as part of "humorous rallying call" to defend the small and independent craft beer industry. Pic: Getty/jacoblund
The campaign seeks to crowdsource $213bn to purchase AB InBev as part of "humorous rallying call" to defend the small and independent craft beer industry. Pic: Getty/jacoblund

Related tags: Brewery, Brewers

The Brewers Association (BA) has launched Take Craft Back: a tongue-in-cheek crowdsourcing campaign taking aim at AB InBev’s craft beer acquisition strategy by attempting to raise $213bn in pledges to 'purchase' the beer conglomerate.

The Take Craft Back campaign is a “humorous rallying cry” ​to bring attention to “AB InBev’s intention to permanently alter the craft landscape by presenting acquired brands as if they were truly, authentically independent, and ultimately narrowing real choice in the marketplace for the beer lover,”​ the BA said.

No money is being taken when a pledge is made, but the campaign seeks to highlight the difficulty in distinguishing craft brewers from those now owned by multinational companies, as well as promote the BA's independent craft brewer seal.

“It’s symbolic and serious,”​ BA craft beer program director, Julia Herz, told BeverageDaily.

Promoting craft on a budget

"We don’t have the money Big Beer does to execute consumer campaigns; there are no $5m Super Bowl ads in our future. So we asked ourselves: how can we turn beer advertising upside down, and on a strict budget?

"While the topic—the corporate takeover of craft—could not be more serious for brewers, the campaign is a humorous way to maximize its consumer reach. Take Craft Back spotlights the vast difference in resources between Big Beer and America’s small & independent craft brewers, and the tongue-in-cheek campaign embodies the spirit & ethos of the craft brewing community—a group that has never shied away from a challenge" - BA.

“After dozens of acquisitions in the past few years, we are ready to swing our feather duster at the biggest of big beer. Via the largest crowdfunding campaign ever we’re using a play from their playbook: If you cannot beat em’, buy em’.”

Promoted by the tagline “They buy us, now we buy them”, ​the integrated campaign features self-proclaimed craft beer lover and campaign spokesperson, Andy, who warns that big beer creates the “illusion of choice” ​because its craft style beer packaging conceals the fact that the brand is owned by a multinational brewer (you can watch the video below). 

“US craft brewers represent 98% of today’s 5,700 breweries, yet they only have less than 13% market share by volume,”​ Herz said. “Think about that. Is that a balanced beer marketplace?”

Pledges are being collected through​ with the goal of raising $213bn to 'purchase' AB InBev.

Since its launch yesterday, the campaign has raised $1.6m in pledges (at the time of publication) with 'no money to be collected until we reach $213bn in pledges...*wink*, you get the picture'​, says the BA. 

The BA is encouraging small and independent brewers to promote the campaign through social media with the hashtags #TakeCraftBack and #IndependentBeer, and to display the Independent Craft seal on its packaging or within the brewery. 

As the largest brewer in the world - and one which has purchased 10 craft brewers since 2011 including Goose Island and Golden Road Brewing - AB InBev 'represents the biggest and most powerful of Big Beer', says the BA. 

‘Seek the seal’

A major part of the fight against big beer is getting consumers to distinguish beer brewed by small and independent craft brewers from craft beer brands owned by large multinational brewers.

The BA launched its own seal​ ​for small and independent craft brewers earlier this year to help consumers make this distinction and as of mid-October, 2,300 independent US craft breweries have signed up to use the seal.

“Ultimately our goal is to raise beer drinker awareness of the difference between Big Beer’s ‘crafty’ brands and your truly small and independent beers—to know the difference, and to actively ‘seek the seal’ and prefer true craft brands,”​ the BA said.

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