Rutland on Beer and Nationalism

18 Sep

From Professor Rutland’s nationalismwatch:

Beer and Nationalism

For some reason beer commercials have become one of the main vehicles for the representation of national identity, from Canada to Laos. The initiative comes from the beer companies themselves, looking for a way to sell more beer. They seem to operate according to the following logic: Young men drink beer. Young men are nationalist. Therefore: promoting nationalist pride will lead people to drink more beer.

The leading example of beer nationalism is the ad Molson titled “I am Canadian,” launched in 2000. Witty and ironic, “the Rant” became a viral hit in Canada and spawned a stream of imitators, including a Startrek version and “I am not American” from the Arrogant Worms. Molson continued to churn out commercials on the same theme, though they were increasingly crass. In 2005, after Molson’s merger with American brewer Coors, Molson retired the “I am Canadian” slogan. The central theme of the Molson campaign, familiar to scholars of nationalism and Edward Said’s Orientalism, is that Canadian identity is defined in opposition to the American “other.” The theme was picked by other marketing campaigns in Canada, as in this ad by the Japanese automaker Nissan.

Molson’s success was emulated elsewhere, notably by Fosters, the Australian beer giant, in their I Believe campaign. Australia’s Bluetooth beer company took the beer-nationalism theme to a new level. A supporter of the anti-whaling activities of the Sea Shepherd craft, Bluetooth produced this truly disturbing commercial in support of a boycott of Japanese beer.

Check out the full post here.


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