Budweiser ties one on to boost sales

Budweiser releases a new can today shaped like a bow-tie and tests the theory that packaging alone can pay off.

In development since 2010, the new bow-tie can will be available only in the United States and will not replace the traditional Budweiser can.

Budweiser is coming out with a new can today. The can is in the shape of a bow-tie, which has been part of the Bud’s logo since 1956. It’s the same height as a regular beer can, it sounds like a regular beer can and the beer still takes like Bud. But good luck trying to crush it after you’re done.

One of the first things people notice about the can is how strong it is, says Pat McGauley, the vice president of innovation at Budweiser. He says to bring-in the the waistline of the can -- so that it looks like a bow tie -- they had to use stronger aluminum.

“So it would maintain its shape,” McGauley explains.

It takes the “shaping machine” 16 steps to give the new can its 10-degree angles. For beer drinkers worried that the little pinch on the can is going to cut back on your buzz, you only lose seven tenths of an ounce. Bud has been working on the can for several years.

“These aren’t small feats, we did spend significant dollars in our can plant and in our breweries and in the cost of the aluminum,” McGauley says.

So, the can is pretty cool, but what’s the point if the beer tastes the same?

“It drives a lot of excitement,” McGauley says, and buzz.


The bow-tie has been part of the Bud’s logo since 1956.


Bud could use both right now, says Eric Shepard, the executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights. “The Budweiser brand has been very week in the United States,” Shepard says.

It’s not just Bud. Sales of big beer makers like Miller and Coors have been slipping in recent years. The recession didn’t help and there’s another problem: The rising popularity of wine and spirits.

Shephard says big beer makers are loathe to change the taste of the beer, that’s really risky. “So what do you do? You change marketing and/or you change packaging,” he says.

In recent years, Coors introduced a can that turns blue when it’s cold. And Miller put out a “punch top can” that makes the beer easier to chug. The new can will probably give Bud a bump in sales, says Gary Hemphill with the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

“The question beyond that is, is it a lasting increase or will be a novelty item?" Hemphill asks.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

In development since 2010, the new bow-tie can will be available only in the United States and will not replace the traditional Budweiser can.

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