This summer we saw yet another nightmarish dystopian vision of a civilization that has been overrun by mindless zombies in which society as we know it crumbles and lies in ruins. I’m talking of course, about Anheuser-Busch transforming the little town of Crested Butte, Colorado into the fictional burg “Whatever, USA” and importing 1,000 young adults to serve as backdrop in commercials for Bud Light’s “Up For Whatever” advertising campaign
Personally, I think “Whatever” is a horrible name for a marketing campaign. “Whatever” doesn’t exactly proclaim “Herein lies a discriminating palate.” Rather, it makes their demographic sound like dullards who, when asked, “What’s your favorite beer?” yowl an inebriated “Whatever gets me wasted, dude!”
In any case, Anheuser-Busch paid the town $500,000 for the right last week to paint the town Bud Blue, and stud Elk Avenue, the main thoroughfare, with outdoor hot tubs, a volleyball court, a concert stage, a giant cowboy boot statue, and other stuff that supposedly screams “Beer!” In addition, the street’s restaurants and hotels, along with residents’ fences, were rebranded for the weekend, whether they liked it or not.
Many of the 1,500 year-round town residents were decidedly in the “not” column, and were understandably livid that they were kept in the dark about the project until after it was a fait accompli. They apparently didn’t share the “Whatever” philosophy when it came to turning their off-the-beaten-track artistic community into a 3 day Party Animal theme park. Although, it must be said that if you reside in a town called Crested Butte, you’ve pretty much conceded that you’re OK with “whatever” your town is called.
Still, one resident was so irate that he threatened to tear down any signs or ornaments on his property that were painted Bud blue, meaning that theoretically, at least, he could’ve been arrested for defacing his own property, even though he was actually “un-defacing” it.
The mayor, with the central casting name of Aaron Huckstep, defended both the decision and the secrecy by noting that the town needed the revenue, and also that it would create many jobs, albeit extremely short term ones, save for the those who might be employed cleaning up the damage after the event was over.
The 1,200 party goers were chosen from a pool of more than 150,000 applicants who submitted videos to Anheuser-Busch, “demonstrating that they were ‘up for whatever,’” the New York Times said. Many of whom, no doubt demonstrated it in a pool.
It’s safe to say that the top sub-one-percent of applicants who were chosen made it clear in the videos that they were up for “whatever” except a “sober and contemplative weekend reflecting on the value of living a monastic existence of deep introspection.”
Rather, I’d venture that nine months from now there’s a good chance there will be a spike in babies nicknamed “Bud.”
For that, we can at least be thankful that the festival wasn’t sponsored by Heineken.
In an age where you can barely turn around without seeing a brand name or advertisement staring you in the face, and where sports stadiums eagerly sell naming rights to the highest bidder and even the odd (and we do mean “odd”) person tattoos or shaves the name of a sponsor onto his head in exchange for $$, it’s probably inevitable that townships would follow. Perhaps our forthcoming incursion into the Middle East will be “sponsored by Halliburton.” It would be nice to think that there are still some things that are not for sale, first among them being our municipalities and governments (it’s too late to wish that of our elected officials), but Bud begs to differ.
To which I can only proclaim a loud and defiant…
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