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Will Joe Sixpack still love Anheuser-Busch?

Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi!

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Anheuser-Busch will no longer be the largest American brewery. The weak U.S. dollar allowed Belgian beer manufacturer InBev to go bargain shopping, and they found a plum deal in Anheuser-Busch and their iconic Budweiser and Michelob lines.

The proposed new company, which would become the planet's leading brewer, has been given the inclusive name of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Despite top billing in the company name and A-B's attempts to make the deal look like a merger rather than an acquisition, InBev will be in charge of the maker of "The Great American Lager," Budweiser.

Things will not change much for Joe Bud-drinker. Favorite A-B brands will still be available on tap at the local watering hole. Stores will still stock every conceivable mix of A-B cans, bottles and aluminum rocketship-looking doohickeys. A-B products will still be the beneficiaries of millions of dollars worth of Super Bowl ads. A-B recipes and formulations will stay the same. The world will still turn. The Bud Light will still flow.

However, the deal could have an effect on long-time A-B customers. Budweiser enjoyed a position alongside Harley-Davidson, John Deere, Ford and Chevy in the American lexicon, shining examples of the quality and heritage of American products. That distinction, along with a massive advertising budget, helped A-B keep a great many consumers loyal to Budweiser even as the company saw increased competition from import, regional and micro/craft brewers.

It can be argued that Anheuser-Busch's status as an American icon was its most valuable asset. A-B was keenly aware of that status and worked hard to cultivate it. This explains the anachronistic endeavor of caring for and maintaining a fleet of Clydesdale horses and archaic horse-drawn wagons as the symbol of Budweiser's public image.

The symbolic status of Budweiser even crosses flavor lines. On craft-beer focused Web sites such as and, members, many of whom say they dislike the taste of Budweiser, lamented the loss of a distinctly American icon.

Many A-B fans opposed the proposed takeover. A Web site sprung up, Songwriter Phil McClary penned Kiss Our Glass, an A-B Anthem with lyrics extolling the virtues of Americana and Bud's place in it (watch it at

Yet as the business world becomes increasingly global, the protests of those seeking to keep Budweiser American seem as much of a throwback as the Bud Clydesdales and their Dalmatian companion.

Time will tell just how loyal A-B customers will remain now that the shots are being called from Belgium.

Will Joe Sixpack still love Anheuser-Busch? 07/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 1:31pm]
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