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Historic Beer Sales Slump Calls For Desperate Measures

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Photo: Ivy Dawned

This summer is scorching but big beer's numbers are cold: sales of Bud Light are down for the second year in a row—and 2009 was the first negative year in the 29 years since its launch. Coors Light and Millers Lite, the other category heavyweights, are also down. According to the Beer Institute, industry shipments are down 4%. Four percent! Beer is a $100 billion industry! So what are companies doing to fix this sad state of affairs?

If you think the answer is "make better beer" because that is, of course, the only logical answer, you're mistaken! And we here at Eater scoff at your naivete. Anheuser-Busch is launching six new Bud Light commercials, doing online marketing and bankrolling a "15-story hot-air balloon shaped like a Select 55 bottle that will travel to festivals across the country," while MillerCoors is going the stupid bullshit innovation route:

There will be a new Miller Lite "Vortex Bottle" (which supposedly unlocks flavors and aromas in the beer by aerating it as it pours) and to get the cold train moving again, a Coors Light 12-pack with a window that lets would-be purchasers see if its temperature-sensitive color-changing bottles are cold.

Seriously, you guys: the people at MillerCoors thinks the best way to fight sagging beer sales is with fancy bottles. Never mind that one of the big reasons big beer sales are down is because consumers are getting better educated about beer and therefore looking for better products, at a time when better beers from smaller breweries are getting both more affordable and easier to find. If you can pick up Sam Adams or Magic Hat for just a dollar or two more per six pack, why wouldn't you?

· Americans Downing Less Beer, Sparking Brawl Among Brewers [Ad Age]

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