The Cult Of Propaganda

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Some of the definitions of a cult, as defined by Dictionary.com, include 1) “an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing,” 2) “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.,” 3) “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader,” and 4) “any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.” That sure sounds like Alcohol Justice, and many other prohibitionist groups, to me. They hold up the ideal that alcohol is bad, and anyone making it, selling it or saying anything good about it is not only wrong, but evil. They use extremist rhetoric and tactics to advance their agenda and they’re certainly “outside of conventional society” since the majority of people enjoy alcohol from time to time, and without question they use “methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific,” especially the unscientific variety masquerading as science. I don’t know if I’d call Bruce Lee Livingston “a charismatic leader;” he seems like more of an opportunist than an evangelist, but he’s also a “dancer” and a “tennis player,” so who knows? But as far as I can see, they pass the test for being a cult.

So it’s slightly amusing to see that the cult of propaganda, a.k.a. Alcohol Justice, has placed Anheuser-Busch InBev in the AJ Doghouse for the sin of making something that’s “flavored” and “glow-in-the-dark,” which of course means that it must be “youth-attractive,” whatever that means. And if that wasn’t vague enough for you, they helpfully include a link in their tweet to their doghouse explanation entitled “Flavored? Glow-in-the-dark? A-B InBev.” Which by itself seems fairly silly. I’m pretty sure almost everything, with the possible exception of neutral spirits, has a flavor of some kind. Frankly, even the neutral ones taste of something, I mean nobody confuses them with water. But why is glow-in-the-dark such a danger? Lots of things light up at night. What is Sheriff AJ so worried about this time?

In a desperate attempt to gain back young drinkers with tricks children enjoy, A-B InBev is going to dangerous lengths. A-B InBev hopes that its release of Oculto, a new tequila-infused citrus-flavored beer, will lure Millennials back to the A-B InBev stable and brands such as Bud Light.

I’m not sure what led them to declare it was “desperation” that led ABI to make Oculto, but the link tells you everything you need to know. It’s a Fast Company article from March of this year, meaning it took AJ nine months to sound the alarm. In its title, they ask Can AB InBev Seduce Millennials with a New Tequila-Infused Beer?, in which “Vice President of U.S. Marketing Jorn Socquet outlines the strategy behind the brewer’s new brand Oculto, which includes masks and secret messages.”

So who are these Millennials of which they speak? I’m never quite sure where one named generation starts, and another ends, so I took to that series of tubes known as the interwebs. When you Google the term, the immediate answer is “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Yer.” So that would mean ABI is targeting drinkers who reached adulthood at least 15 years ago. Oh, the horror. But other sources do claim Millennials include people who were born as late as 2000. But regardless to insist that ABI is targeting people below 21, who are legally unable to buy what they’re selling is, as usual, an absurdity. I’m not a fan of Oculto as a type of drink, alcopops, or even many of ABI’s products more generally, but they have enough legal customers not to risk doing something illegal or trying to court underage customers. That AJ continues to insist that they’re doing exactly that strains credulity and exposes them as charlatans who would say or do anything to advance their agenda, whether it make sense or not. But AJ goes on in their delusional way.

With a campaign based on elaborate masks, whispered secrets, and mysterious club parties where new drinkers are indoctrinated into the brand, more brand ambassadors join the Oculto fold. Yes, it does sound like a dangerous cult or hazing ritual.

No, it sounds like a bad idea to pander to young adults’ love of Halloween by co-opting imagery from Mexico’s — and all of South America’s — Day of the Dead celebrations. But if you’re worried about a dangerous cult, you need look no further than a mirror. When you start manufacturing controversy, you’re engaging in your own cult-like behavior. Don’t look behind the curtain, reality is what we say it is.

Like other alcohol brands hoping to appeal to youth and attract those who would otherwise reject beer, A-B InBev is focusing the majority of its Oculto marketing strategy on social media, e.g. Instagram. The label includes a glow-in-the-dark, Day-of-the-Dead-inspired skull that looks and acts like a children’s decoration. While A-B InBev attempts to illuminate the Oculto brand label, the risk of harm to young people inside the bottle glows brightly.

You keep using that word “youth.” I do not think it means what you think it means. AJ acknowledges that it was inspired by the Day of the Dead, but mis-characterizes it as “a children’s decoration.” Have they seen a Day of the Dead celebration? Apparently not, or they’d know better than to accuse a glow-in-the-dark skull as being exclusive;y for children. What is it about something that glows in the dark that makes it “youth-attractive” anyway? That similarly makes absolutely no earthly sense. I love phosphorus gadgets, and our house and outside of it, is filled with them. I’m about as far away from youth as one can get, and I love things that glow in the dark.

Also, the idea that the target for Oculto is to “get” people “who would otherwise reject beer” is ridiculous, and completely misleading and false. Did AJ even read the article they’re using to put ABI in the doghouse? The people who are rejecting beer are drinking “hard booze,” drinks like “whiskey and tequila.” So this is really AJ specifically targeting beer — sigh, again — and not alcohol in general. If they were really worried about kids, or people’s health, they’d be applauding this effort to get young adults to drink something far less potent than hard liquor. Oculto, even at 6% ABV, is still no where near as strong as the weakest tequilas or whiskies. Tequila is usually 80 proof, or 40% ABV, while whiskey is around 40-46% ABV. But ABI’s in the doghouse for trying to get people to drink their weaker offering. How does that make any kind of sense?

Their laughable insistence that anything kids, or even young adults perhaps not quite 21, might find appealing is, by definition, “youth-attractive,” is a canard, and a dangerous one that they use time and time again. There is no division between “youth-attractive” and “adult-attractive.” Such delineations do not exist in the real world. Many things adults like, kids like, too. And many things kids love, adults continue to enjoy, as well. The only people who “put away childish things” as so-called grown-ups are, in my opinion, idiots with a stick up their ass who forgot how to enjoy their one and only life. But they’re just the sort of person who might join a cult, even one trying to rid the world of beer.

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