Part of what makes a brand authentic is where it is made, what company makes it and what other things the company does.
Budweiser is one of those brands. Not only is Budweiser about beer, it is about American culture. It is about family time. It is about conservation and animals. It is about the Busch family.
And so the idea that it would be Belgian owned is not sitting well. Thankfully, the Save Budweiser movement has started on the internet. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a European company owning something American. That’s as American as well, America. But what does not sit well is that so many of the American, family run companies have disappeared that we need to stick up for the ones that are left.
The culture that the Busch family developed is not just about Budweiser, Michelob and Natural Light. It is cultural icons like Busch Gardens. Pictured here is the Hospitality House beer garden at Busch Gardens Tampa. The Sputnik looking architecture of the building, which overlooks a flamingo-dotted pond, was featured in the December 1963 issue of National Geographic. It’s a direct cultural descendant of a German beer garden.
These sorts of buildings and traditions can only be protected in a family-run company.
Another great part of Busch Gardens Tampa is the Crown Colony house, which was built for Mrs. August Busch as a birthday present. It’s a sit-down, country club like experience, overlooking the theme park’s Serengeti Plain. Again, these sorts of pop culture artifacts only stay authentic when they remain owned by their sponsoring company.
It also brings to light some other ideas. For instance, Anheuser-Busch might well spin off its theme park division as a separate company, and have the family run it. That way, it could still own a very large asset, and preserve its Busch traditions at the theme parks, which are first rate. The theme parks could then grow into a larger resort brand. The family is good at this, as it developed Kingsmill in Williamsburg around the theme.
The Save Budweiser movement may or may not be successful. But what it is good about it is that it shows how some brands become the property of their consumers. And the subsequent owners of the brands go on notice that if they buy the company, they ought not screw it up.