Monday, December 30, 2013

Big Sky sues Bud Light over "Hold my beer" ads

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 3:39 PM

The Urban Dictionary defines the term “Hold my beer and watch this” as a “Redneck’s last words.” A Google search for the phrase turns up videos and slideshows of seemingly intoxicated people performing feats such as jumping a motorcycle over a flaming kiddie pool and driving an ATV backward off of a bluff.

Just who owns the slogan is the subject of a Dec. 20 lawsuit filed in federal court by Missoula’s Big Sky Brewing Co. against Anheuser-Busch. The makers of Moose Drool and Scape Goat argue in the suit that they trademarked the slogan in 2009 and, as such, Anheuser-Busch is unlawfully using it in a series of promotional videos released last month on YouTube for Bud Light.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have highlighted the series as an example of Anheuser-Busch’s increasingly contemporary approach to advertising. Created by actor John Krasinski, who’s best known for his role in “The Office,” the Bud Light videos take a run at the “Hold my beer” meme that, as The New York Times put it, marks “the opposite of what typically goes on in beer ads that celebrate dudes and bros.” In one video, titled “Nana,” an elderly woman celebrating her 100th birthday asks a partygoer to, “Hold my beer and watch this,” before feigning death.

Big Sky notes, however, that Anheuser-Busch knew or should have known that it owns the trademark on the phrase. In fact, the slogan is printed on Big Sky IPA cans. The Missoula brewery argues further in legal filings that Bud Light is harming its reputation by linking the two businesses.

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“The aforementioned activities of Anheuser-Busch are likely to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers or potential consumers wishing to purchase Big Sky’s products,” it states.

Big Sky is asking the court to order Anheuser to pull the videos, and requesting damages to compensate for lost revenue.

Big Sky co-founder Neal Leathers declined to comment about the lawsuit, other than to say, “Who knows what’s going to come from it all.”

Rob McCarthy, Bud Light’s marketing vice president, issued a written statement to the Independent that says the company did nothing wrong.

“There is no trademark use of the phrase ‘Hold my beer and watch this,’ nor is there intent to create any association with Big Sky,” he says. “Countless other videos and jokes use the same or similar words as a punch line or hashtag.”

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