“In this friendly, freedom-loving land of ours – beer belongs…Enjoy it!”
Craft beer is no longer an outsider’s beverage. It’s not an insider’s one, either. It isn’t owned by the hippies or by the upper class. It is no longer a rare find in stores or unrecognizable to baby boomers or college students. Craft beer has no age limits (beyond a legal one), no gender gaps, and no boundaries. Taprooms are becoming a favorite gathering place. Volunteerism organized by breweries is commonplace. This is evidence of how large a role craft beer plays every day, for many people.
This phrase along with a few of its taglines was the basis of one of the most influential, successful, and recognizable advertising campaigns of all time. Running in a series of about 132 ads from 1945 to 1956, the Beer Belongs campaign and subgroup of Home Life in America ads were seen by millions of Americans. According to third-party research, even those citizens who did not agree with the advertisement of beer in general enjoyed these ads.
Though most beer drinkers wouldn’t recognize the ads today, they deserve a huge portion of the credit for making beer an everyday, every-person beverage. They transformed the beverage from the color it was painted during prohibition – vile, sinful, the reason husbands mistreated their wives – to wholesome, patriotic, and enjoyable.
The campaign was teed up to soar. Just picture this: the war has ended, GIs are returning home to their families, and on top of that, the refrigerator has just been invented. Moreover, the threat of prohibition still looms, and commercial beer producers are interested in an ironclad image for their product, lest it fall again. Families wanted to stay home, to spend time around the dinner table together, and Beer Belongs put beer at the center of it all.
The ads were unequivocally pivotal – emphatically snuffing out the prohibitionist agenda and bolstering public support for the brewing industry. They were successful among everyday consumers as well.
“At the USBF convention in San Francisco [in 1950], the advertising committee again reported on the success of the ad campaign in a presentation entitled “The Position of Beer in American Life.” Comparing beer consumption from 1940 to 1950, they noted it had increased by two-thirds and in 1950 nearly two-thirds of American families bought beer to drink in the home, while in 1940 that figure was less than half.” 
Another significant aspect of the campaign was its powerful use of art and illustration. Dozens of artists were involved, many of them high-profile illustrators who also took part in other socially significant work like the covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Though the context is different, many of the activities pictured are very similar to today – beaches, lawn games, boating, and dinner. No minorities were pictured, as was customary at the time, but there is a broad array of ages, and just as many women are pictured as men, all in idyllic but everyday scenes.
Follow along as I dive deeper into Beer Belongs, from how the campaign arose to how beer belongs today.
Sources and further reading:
1. Brooks, J.R. (November, 2009) In this friendly, freedom-loving land of ours – beer belongs…enjoy it! All About Beer. Retrieved from http://allaboutbeer.com/article/in-this-friendly-freedom-loving-land-of-ours%E2%80%94beer-belongs%E2%80%A6enjoy-it/
2. Brooks, J.R. Beer Belongs – Enjoy It! Brookston Beer Bulletin. http://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/beer-belongs/
3. Houghtaling, A. (2014, April 10). The Ads that Shaped American Beer Marketing. Retrieved from http://punchdrink.com/articles/the-ads-that-shaped-american-beer-marketing/