In the Doghouse

AB InBev Tries to Fleece Patagonia

Outdoor goods company sues, alleging the brew giant stole its name and logo.

patagoniaVpatagoniaWhat’s in a name? If you are global megabrewer AB InBev, connotations of health, environmentalism, and earthiness. That could be why it chose to launch a new beer under the Patagonia label. Unfortunately, the positive connotations were built off the reputation of outdoor goods retailer Patagonia, famous for its fleece outerwear and dedication to social causes. Or so the latter Patagonia alleges in a lawsuit.

As reported in the Washington Post, Patagonia alleges in its legal filing that, “In launching its Patagonia beer, [AB InBev] deliberately has attempted to take advantage of the hard-earned reputation that Patagonia has built over the last 40 years as a company dedicated to environmental conservation.”

Certainly there is a strong resemblance. Both the beer and the gear are emblazoned with silhouetted mountain ranges, with the name written in rustic font. This potentially plays off of the customer base that the clothing manufacturer has built over the years. But it also plays into a more sinister message that AB InBev has been trying to embrace: that beer is somehow healthful.

The megabrewer has used many other strategies besides brand confusion to drive this message home. Earlier this year, they debuted nutritional labels on Bud Light. Meanwhile, their Michelob label has run extensive campaigns linking itself to exercise and workout culture. Most egregiously, AB InBev committed over $15 million to fund NIAAA’s corrupt MACH 15 study, which was specifically designed to distort the long-term effects of alcohol use to make it seem healthier. In every case, the campaigns disregard the basic health impact of alcohol itself.

“This is the same shell game that Big Alcohol has been pulling for years,” said Carson Benowitz-Fredericks, Research Manager at Alcohol Justice. “Show some snow-covered peaks and hide the tumor-riddled livers.”

Of course, the gear brand Patagonia is not above pulling the same trick. As IOGT notes, the company has its own line of beer, that likewise benefits from the company’s association with environmentalism and an outdoor lifestyle. After trying to put their own cans on the mountain, is it any surprise that Patagonia’s mountains were stolen for AB InBev’s cans?

READ MORE about the alcohol industry’s deceptive messaging around healthy drinking.

READ MORE about the corrupt MACH 15 study.

READ MORE about Michelob’s lies surrounding beer and exercise.