Naked truth about nude Bud Light ad: We get cheap beer

The new Bud Light commercial, introduced online Wednesday, features pudgy, naked male flesh. It is the latest in down-market brewing's glorious history of using nudity to sell beer. Only instead of buxom babes, we get 60 seconds of office drones stripping frantically because the company clothing drive is offering a Bud Light for every item donated.

But is Bud Light stripping scared? And will that benefit Joe Six-Pack at the cash register? Donald Lichtenstein, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business, believes the brand is perhaps acting out in fear of even cheaper beer horning in on its low-brau base.

"I'll bet some part of it is a reaction to the market share Pabst is getting," Lichtenstein told WalletPop.

Good ol' Pabst Blue Ribbon has acted like the hair of the dog in this recession hangover, increasing its sales by 30% over the past year, according to one report. The industry averaged a 1.1% uptick, while Budweiser tumbled 7%.

Without expensive advertising, PBR has grabbed hipsters by their blue-collar souls and thrift-minded wallets. It costs as little as $6 a 12-pack in some places, while my casual Internet survey showed a 12-pack of Bud Light runs about $9 in parts of the country, with marked increases in some urban areas.

We're living in a time of conspicuous downscale consumption, Lichtenstein explained. It makes sense for Bud Light to opt for a goofy ditty that could win the hearts of TV watchers and have the potential to multiply in cyberspace viewings. Bud Light isn't about to lower its price and trim advertising, Lichtensein said. It doesn't believe that model works.

So almost everybody wins. We get cheaper beer from other brewers such as Pabst. And we get short-attention-span entertainment between our regularly scheduled programming from Bud Light.

But will Bud Light see enough sales from its latest commercial, a sequel of sorts to its "Swear Jar" campaign with strategic blockage of private parts? It reportedly will not air during the Super Bowl.

"We don't think that it necessarily makes people want to buy the taste of Bud Light, but it associates "that funny commercial" with the name Bud Light," wrote Lichtenstein's students Kendall Broda and Kyle McClure, both 21. "So you could say the humor promotes brand name association."

Charles "Amin" Gilford III, another Lichtenstein student, offered, "This advertisement, while humorous, really lost my attention after the first 30 seconds. I don't drink personally but as a member of the demographic who legally can I don't think this commercial would successfully reach the target market they were trying to."

It should be noted that one of the most memorable skin-baring campaigns didn't deliver on the ledger. Old Milwaukee's 1991 Swedish Bikini Team, featuring buxom blondes who appeared when men declared "It doesn't get any better than this!", became the rage but aired only a few months before caving to protests of sexism.

Usually, when companies hawk suds to the masses, sales generate from taste -- though not the kind on your tongue. Blind taste tests have proven repeatedly that most consumers don't know their Michelob from their Keystone, Lichtenstein said. So it comes down to how we feel about ourselves while imbibing. "Beer is a product sold largely on image," he said.

Now if we could only erase the Bud Light commercial's image of the birthday-suited doughboy jiggling into the elevator.

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