INVESTMENTS. IN A COUPLE months I'll turn twenty-one and enter the world of adulthood. I'll probably buy a house, get a car and maybe even start paying taxes. Now, my Harvard education has taught me to take seriously such important decisions, to analyze the benefits of all my options. Yet, among a person's well-chosen commodities, there is one large investment that is usually made haphazardly. Beer.
Given a certain rate of consumption (1 week = 1 case) and a certain price (1 case = $10-20), it is conceivable to spend over $1000 on beer during the course of a normal year. Figuring the average life span to be around 70 years, this adds up to a sum of money that could easily purchase a comfortable home or a couple of Porsches or three ashtrays for the Defense Department. So putting to use the skills I've learned from my alma mater, I have been doing some research to determine which brand of beer I will invest in for the rest of my life. Since going to a library really wouldn't help in this pursuit, I have decided to choose my brand based on television advertising.
The important criteria are drinkability, affordability and sociability. The first two categories are self-explanatory, but the third may need some elucidation. "Sociability" is defined by the general nature of people who drink any given brand of beer. It is socially unacceptable to invite the head of your law firm over for dinner, pour him a glass of mouthwatering, buck-a-six-pack brew and expect to get that partnership you richly deserve. It is similarly unwise to walk into a hardhat bar somewhere in Chelsea, order a Corona and then bitch loudly when you don't get a lemon to rub ever so delicately over the mouth of the bottle. In essence, your brand of beer defines your image.
For my research, I began with imported beer. In an ideal world, perhaps, I would have cases of DAB or Dortmunder flown over from Germany, but assuming some financial constraints I concentrated on those brands widely available in America. The Beck's ads claim that no matter where you go in this country: "The word around town is Beck's." I was turned off, however, by the images of men in their forties trying to sport Don Johnson pajama pants and Ray-bans while hawking brew. Strike one.
Heineken, the most popular import, went for a more casual approach with: "Come to think of it, I'll have a Heineken." Nonchalance notwithstanding, this ad wasn't very visually exciting, featuring a drop of water climbing up the side of a bottle. Don't the Heineken people realize that you can put poodle urine in a bottle, chill it, spray it with water, and watch a little droplet of H2O do exactly the same thing? I finally realized that European countries, who in general make fun of American beer, don't always export their best brew.
So I turned my attention down under, to Foster's, which promotes itself as: "Foster's, it's Australian for beer, mate." In the commercial, Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan was shown clubbing a fish with a baseball bat. Now, Hogan is an affable looking chap and the ad showed promise so I checked out the brew. I found, however, a serious flaw with Foster's in the size of the can. No matter how good the first two-thirds of any Foster's, it takes the better part of a day to reach the room-temperature dregs. So I nixed Australia.
Turning my attention stateside, I found a certain Colorado brewery proclaiming: "Coors is the one." This is not a bad slogan but I just don't trust the Coors spokesman, Mark Harmon. He's simply too preppy and clean-cut, the sort of person one associates with insider trading, old boy networks and shady land deals with Native American tribes. Ultimately, my conscience couldn't handle Coors.
I moved on to Michelob which claims: "The Night Belongs To Michelob." In my opinion, this slogan is counter-productive because it seems to rule out any consumption in late a.m. and early p.m. hours, a prime brew-swilling period. The images that flashed before my eyes left me equally cold. Unless your idea of a hot night on the town consists of sitting in a neon-lit disco and watching Phil Collins' hairline recede, this brand fails to reach the acceptable level of sociability.
So I changed channels to catch a Miller spot, which proudly advertised: "Miller's Made The American Way." This really seemed weird. Why do some marketeers invent strange foreign-sounding names like Frusen Gladje when their products are such American staples as ice cream, while other enterprising capitalists like the Miller people focus on their product's domestic origin? And why do this for beer, when it is generally acknowledged that Bavaria is the beer capital of the known universe?
ON AND ON I WENT I watched bayou swamp rats quaffing Old Milwaukee and muttering: "It jus' don' get no better than this." I viewed a troop of husky Canadians crooning: "I'll be a Moosehead man for life." Muzak voices whispered seductively in my ear: "Let It Be Lowenbrau." Ice-capped peaks and wild phallic stallions advised me to: "Head for the mountains." I was becoming dizzy. I had to get off this whirling dervish of archetypal images and subliminal cuts.
But, in the end, my research proved fruitful and I decided on a little-known brand called Budweiser. Budweiser, or "Bud" to initiates, or "fucking-A right Budweiser" to fanatics, has had a long history of great slogans. "This Bud's for you." "When you say Budweiser, you've said it all." Powerful words for determined people. Their latest. slogan, though, tops them all: "I pledge allegiance to the King of Beers." This was exactly what I was looking for, a brew with a political manifesto to back it up.
In addition, Budweiser ads are almost always visually interesting. Who will ever forget the surrealistic spots with Leon Redbone floating through the air on a surfboard? Or the charismatic canine, Spuds Mackenzie, surrounded by his harem? Budweiser, I decided, is thus an excellent investment choice. It's fairly cheap, practically everybody already drinks it, and it has a certain something that speaks on a universal level.
So I concluded my research, well satisfied that I had applied my Harvard education to grand result. Those half-minute beer commercials, which previously had served as nothing more than piss-breaks during Celtic games, had accorded me the opportunity to choose wisely and to plan ahead for financial success and security.