Dumb Beer Marketing of the Week: Stella Artois

In general, I like Stella Artois’s ad campaigns. I’m a sucker for the retro yé-yé style and screwball-comedic TV spots. Plus Stella, and its lower-alcohol version Stella 4%, are nice, easy-drinking after-work refreshers.

But this billboard is nonsense! “Contains only four ingredients,” it boasts. “Hops, maize, malted barley, and water.” First of all: they’ve forgotten yeast, which is arguably the most important ingredient in beer! Granted, Stella filters the yeast out of their beer, but it’s still an ingredient.

Okay, let’s say yeast doesn’t count because it’s not actually in the finished product. Even then, maize is not typically considered a component of high-quality beer. Quite the contrary, it is often used as a cheap adjunct to barley malts – American macrobreweries quite famously use corn and corn syrup to jack malt liquor up to grotesquely high levels of alcohol.

So maize is a silly thing to advertise. But even if it’s not, I haven’t addressed this ad’s most glaring inanity: who cares if it’s only four ingredients!? First of all, there are many, many beers out there that use only three ingredients (not including yeast) because they don’t include corn or other malternatives. But why is a low number of ingredients a selling point anyway? There may be dubious gastropolitical reasons or less-dubious health reasons for buying food and drink with low amounts of ingredients, but otherwise this one has me scratching my head. I’m not sure who’s the bigger idiot: the marketing director who came up with this advertisement or the mindless consumer who actually buys into it.

Marketing idiocy rating:

One Budweiser Frog (points awarded for clever art direction).

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4 thoughts on “Dumb Beer Marketing of the Week: Stella Artois

  1. Philip says:

    there is a wide.spread rumour, that stella artois contains a secret ingeredient, that makes people (or especially men) agressive. that’s why it’s often called wife-beater. Obviously, what makes people agressive after having a few “wife-beaters” is just alcohol, but Stella is trying hard to clear up with this rumour.

  2. Z. Constantine says:

    With you on the inclusion of “maize” as something to be proud of… wrecks the whole “Since 1366” claim disingenuously stamped on the product.

    Leave it to Anheuser-Busch InBev (if you like “maize” you’ll LOVE Budweiser) to vacillate between pseudo-authenticity and contrived purity.

    • Doug says:

      They’ve just re-released this billboard and I too was scratching my head why any brewer would want to bring light to the fact that they were substituting malt with cheap corn grits. They must be dredging the bottom to evade the poor reputation.
      However if you like “maize” Budweiser is not for you as it uses rice as the adjunct. Surprisly rice is per tonne more expensive than malt. The mind boggles

  3. Graham says:

    Budweiser is a good beer, maybe the rice helps. I mean, it’s nothing compared with a Guinness, or Lindeman’s lambic, but better than most American micro-brews.

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