Screwing Up The Brand

One of the things that drives historians (well, this historian anyway) crazy is that people just refuse to learn from history — no matter how much precedent there is for a situation where doing X results in Unpleasant Consequence Y, we just go ahead and do X anyway, expecting that the outcome won’t be total shit and that anyway, Times Are Different.

Example:  when Coca-Cola tried to change Coke into New Coke back in the mid-1980s — because The Market Has Changed, And We Need To Move With The Times — a storm of furious resistance from their loyal consumers forced them to recant and relaunch Coke as Classic Coke, going back to the same old formulation of super-sweet battery acid that the world had come to know and love.  (New Coke, eventually, went the way of its erstwhile spokesman Bill Cosby.)

The Coca-Cola fiasco should be taught in business schools everywhere, and should be an integral part of any company’s training in marketing.  It’s not the first time it happened, of course;  but it was one of the more illuminating examples of leaving your established brand alone, and all the more notable because it involved a mere carbonated soft drink, surely one of the most irrelevant and disposable products ever invented.

Clearly, the Coke fiasco has either been forgotten or willfully ignored, because:

Stella Artois owners Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I say they’ve lowered the alcohol content in its canned, draft and gluten-free versions to capitalise on the popularity of “wellness trends”.
It last cut ABV from 5% to 4.8% in 2012 citing “evolving” drinking trends in the UK.

Let’s not forget the role of the bean-counters:

But the move is said to have saved previous brewers AB inBev up to £8.6million a year in duty, according to

And the result?

The latest reduction has left beer lovers fuming and sparked a surge in one star reviews across supermarket websites from customers.

In a scathing review on Tesco’s website, the person wrote: “Today I cracked open a can of Stella 4.6% and thought I had Covid, since I could not taste anything.”

I have no dog in this fight:  Stella Artois has always been my supporting argument when I state that contrary to popular belief, the Belgians know fuck-all about making a decent beer*.

It appears that they know fuck-all about marketing the foul stuff, either.

*As I recall, the Belgies were the first to start adding fruit flavors to their beer, which just proves my point.


  1. The “new coke” screwup was studied in the international marketing and sales course at Thunderbird, along with a whole host of other top notch fuckups in use of language and translation in foreign markets. Good times, and yes, the only constant is change, but humans do not like change so much. We are evidencing that in full HD resolution as we speak. The pushback at all levels is going to be epic (already starting in some places).

  2. And the latest from Coca-Cola is their foisting anti-white privilege training, i.e. woketardiness, on all their employees.
    News flash: If Coke wants to be anti-white they should just call themselves Pepsi (or Pezbi as the homeys call it.)

  3. And this, gentlemen, is why, whenever possible, if you can – you do for yourself. I’ll take my home brew over the flat pasteurized factory crap any day of the week. That stuff is made by programmed stainless steel machines for drones.

    Years ago I was forced by the unionized brewery workers and gubbimint liquor store slobs to learn to brew… or become a teetotaler. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s a great hobby that flips the bird at the govt and it’s union slobs AND gives you beer that is superior, cheap and plentiful.

  4. New Coke when taught in woke business school: the wrong people were in charge, you are well trained here and can do better.

    Belgians and beer: they know how to brew beer, not how to run a large brewery so they sell those to the Americans who than fire the Belgian brewmasters and screw up the product, wondering all the time why sales plummet.

  5. I got sober in 1988, and this silliness had not yet begun.

    A while after I did, I read that the distillers at Jack Daniels had reduced it from 86 to 80 proof.

    I can only imagine what that did to the taste of that whiskey.

    The Budweiser story Is also instructive as to what can happen to “family “ businesses which retain management within the family unit over a period of generations.

    As opposed to, say, hiring outside professional executives (I.e. those whose qualifications for service are not based solely upon bloodline relationships to the product founders).

    Augustus Busch, IV lost control and ownership of the company in a hostile takeover to InBev, a Belgian conglomerate.

  6. I give you as a classic example the accountants at Winchester who in 1964 decided to change how their rifles were manufactured. “Pre ’64” Winchester means a good one and 57 years later they have not lived it down. Reputations are like virginity, once lost, never regained. And in both cases you are screwed.

  7. I had an Englishman try to push Stella on me in San Antonio (of all places.) His pitch was, “it’s the most popular beer in Britain.” My reply was, “and Budweiser is the most popular beer in Germany. Bring me a Shiner.”

    Of course, AB is owned by Belgians now too, so we’ve come full circle.

  8. You’d think with all the time Germans have spent there, both Belgium and France would know how to make decent beer.

    And Ferguson Rifleman, same here except wine. No sulfates, no sulfites, no sorbates.

  9. Those too busy or too lazy to brew their own have no reason to complain about what others might brew.

  10. I’ve always thought Dutch beer sucked from a very young age (first bottle of Heineken). They always brag about monks having the tanks on the roof and opening the lids at night “to let the wild yeast in”. This is madness. Stella sucks, too. Dutch beer
    I brew my own beer and know what I like. The Brits brew the finest ales on the planet. Germany and Austria have excellent pedestrian beer (e.g. Gosser, Wurtsburger, Turn und Taxis, etc.). I also enjoy Czech beer. The masters of Pilsner beer i.e. Pilsner Urquel, Golden Fazan (found in Hungary).
    The Japanese also brew some nice rice pilsners like Kirin Ichiban, but I still prefer the Czech.

    1. Payne’s 41 (not sure on the spelling, but can’t find it referred to online at all). The one time I got to taste it was back in ’81. It was only sold in pubs, the brewery didn’t bottle. I was on a trip with the college bellringers to Cambridgeshire and all the Cambridge ringers came with us up to St. Neot’s for the day simply for an excuse to drink the stuff since you couldn’t get it in Cambridge. I think it was a nutty brown? I do know I didn’t normally care for stuff that dark, and it was wonderful.

  11. C’mon guys, don’t whinge so much, there are no bad beers, but some beers are better than others.

    Me, I like Czech beers, Uhersky Brod first, Krusovice second, all Czech beers are better than Stella, but I’d drink a Stella before I’d drink a glass of water. Ugh.

    I’m also coming around to the craft brews the enthusiastic young punk beer guys are producing.

  12. I always figured the New Coke debacle was so that when they brought back original coke, folks wouldn’t notice the change in taste caused by switching from sugar to corn syrup, since it happened at about that time.

  13. Saying the Belgians don’t brew decent beer based on Stella is like saying Americans don’t brew decent beer based on Pabst. Or Budweiser. Or Piels. Or any of the light beers. Or malt liqours. St. Bernardus, Westmalle, Duvel, all brew wonderful products. There are dozens more.

  14. As a Belgian I can say that ” Stella ” is no longer much to be seen in the country and was never really that popular in spite of its large distibution. Now ” Jupiler ” is No1 ( and better ).
    Also we still have a lot of small breweries that offer fine beer for every taste.
    Of the ” fruity ” beers te only one worth a thry is ” Kriek ” but it is truly a refresing summer thing.

  15. What, Stella Artois cut the alcohol content in their “beer” a second time? Back in the eighties and nineties we considered Stella to be tremendously watered down. The blue skim milk of import beers.

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