With little to gain and a lot to lose, playing politics is something brands generally do from a position of neutrality ("7-Election"), low-brow humor (Gas-X's "Gas Crisis") or outright mocking of the system (Etch A Sketch; Reebok's 2003 Terry Tate candidacy). So when the Most Interesting Man in the World chose to host a fundraising event for President Barack Obama, Dos Equis's parent Heineken USA was understandably vexed, forced into one of those frustrating statements all brands hate to make that include the words "views are strictly his own, and do not represent."
But maybe Dos Equis — and Heineken — should play to their brand strengths. According to a recent study, both brands' drinkers trend Democratic, with the former rated the most popular beer amongst lefties. So when viewers drunkenly yell at the TV during the first 2012 presidential debate on Wednesday, chances are they will do so with very partisan bottles in hand.
In a piece titled "What Your Beer Says About Your Politics," the National Journal breaks down Scarborough Research data to determine the politics of particular beer brands. The data dive found Dos Equis drinkers to be "in the middle-of-the-road," with Heineken and Corona drinkers trending most Democratic. Coors Light, Shiner Bock, Lone Star and Leinenkugel's drinkers the most Republican. No surprise that the namesake of the the Coors brand has run as a GOP candidate. And, as noted here earlier about the politics of beer in the U.S. state most known for the product, so has the namesake of Leinenkugel's.
Meanwhile, the fundraiser for Obama was just one of the more overt instances of left-learning political activism for Jonathan "Most Interesting Man in the World" Goldsmith. Just days before the Sept. 18 Vermont fundraising event, Goldsmith was on NPR poking fun at popular Republican "mama grizzly" Sarah Palin.
Goldsmith is hardly the first brand spokesperson to cause headaches at corporate HQ after taking up a political position. R. Lee Ermey, an actor best known as the drill sergeant from hell in Full Metal Jacket, has been the voice of Coors Light and a spokesman for Glock handguns. In 2010 Ermey claims he was fired by Geico for appearing at a Toys 4 Tots charity event where Ermey criticized President Obama's "socialism" and accused him of "destroying this country."
The question of who will win the "beer vote" is a sideshow of the 2012 U.S. election. But then, what isn't a sideshow of the 2012 election?
While GOP candidate Mitt Romney adheres to his Mormon beliefs and does not drink alcohol — hence no cold one with his pre-debate Chipotle lunch — Democrat Barack Obama has been hoisting mugs across the brand landscape.
At the Iowa Fair the President hit the Bud tent but he has also been seen sipping Miller, choices many analysts believe is meant to align his brand with the beer brand of many working class voters. At the other end of the beer exclusivity spectrum is the White House's own brew, the recipe for which the administration recently released online. It would take a political cynic to assume Obama has taken so heartily to beer to point out that his opponent won't even have one; a redefining of the political mantra "the candidate you'd want to be able to have a beer with" to "the candidate who you'd want to be able to have a beer."
Ironically, both Budweiser and Miller are now owned by foreign corporations: Bud by Brazilian-Belgian Anheuser–Busch InBev and Miller by the UK's SABMiller. Talk about a brew-ha-ha.