Although written in 2003, I just happened upon a lengthy analysis of the Simpsons’ use of Duff Beer at the Simpsons Archive to critique the then big three American beer companies on Fox’s animated television series.
It was written by Jeffrey Katzin, an economics major at Tufts University, and called the Advertising of America’s Beer Companies and the Duff Corporation.
After giving an overview of then current and recent past advertising campaigns of Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors, Katzin then compares the Duff ads depicted in various Simpsons’ episodes, citing numerous specific examples. He also touches on other aspects of beer marketing, such as sporting events, theme parks and the like.
It’s an interesting overview and analysis of how the Simpsons tapped into how beer marketing taps into peoples’ emotions and exploits their feelings. This is how the big advertisers, with often massive budgets and with campaigns created by the biggest advertising firms in the world, manage to control information and create a perception in the marketplace quite removed from reality.
It’s this sort of advertising which has, in my opinion, done much to taint the beer industry and has given the general public a quite incorrect view of what exactly beer is or could be. This , in turn, has done much harm to craft brewers’ efforts to show beer as something different and, more importantly, as a sophisticated, diverse, and flavorful beverage worthy of as much respect as other gourmet products.
From near the end of the article:
The writers effectively depict Duff as a media-crazed beer company. Duff advertises on TV and in society using similar techniques to America’s beer companies; they use political figures, athletes, humorous commercials, stuntmen, and the superhero-like Duff Man. These methods clearly appeal to the youth market, in which viewers with in the market are proved to be more susceptible to consistent drinking habits.
It’s a worthwhile read if you have the time and/or love the Simpsons and good beer.