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As Seen On TV: Duff / Budweiser


This Duff's for you.

Raise your glass to Duff Beer, the King of Parody.

Duff is Homer Simpson's brew of choice. He and other members of Springfield's elite sit on their more-than-somewhat-ample duffs at Moe's Tavern and guzzle the swill by the gallon. Duff is an all-American brew and takes dead aim at Budweiser, once the king of US beers and now owned by Belgian brewer InBev.

Why anyone would want to take potshots at mass-produced weasel water guaranteed to give you gas is a mystery, but the shocking parallels between Duff and Bud can now be told:

  • Duff's spokesman is Duffman, an eerie echo of a pitchman called Budman who once shilled for Budweiser.

  • The Simpsons' family dog, Santa's Little Helper, is pressed into service as Suds McDuff, a not-so-distant relative of Spuds MacKenzie, the hound that pitched Bud Light.

  • The labels for Duff and Budweiser are close enough to give the tipsy a sense of deja vu.

  • Duff Gardens, an amusement park eerily similar to Busch Gardens, ups the ante with the Beerquarium, home of the world's happiest fish, the Beer Hall of Presidents, the Washing Machine Ride, and a rollercoaster known as The Whiplash -- all major money-makers, no doubt.

  • Springfield's baseball team, the Isotopes, plays in Duff Stadium while the St. Louis Cardinals call Busch Stadium home. Vendors push the namesake beer at both parks.

  • In an advertising blitz, Duff Lite and Duff Dry bang heads in the Duff Bowl, paralleling the annual competition in Budweiser's Bud Bowl during the Super Bowl.

  • Duff, Duff Light, and Duff Dry come from the same barrel, suggesting a lesson Budweiser learned long ago: Marketing trumps all, including good taste.

  • In one episode, Duff's moniker is "The beer that makes the days fly by" -- a down-and-dirty counterpoint to routine blather about the need to "drink responsibly" when everyone knows beer was invented to help guzzlers release their inner idiot.

This may be a bit of a stretch for sociologists, but it's clear to those who live in the real world: The Simpsons also take on Disney (DIS). The Seven Duffs are: Tipsy, Queasy, Surly, Sleazy, Edgy, Dizzy, and Remorseful -- exactly what large quantities of beer will do to the average drinker, and a clever play on the Seven Dwarfs, Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful and Grumpy.

Coors, now Molson Coors (TAP), makes a routine pitch, linking its beer with the rugged mountains in Colorado: "Tap the Rockies, Coors Light." Ho-hum. Miller urged customers to "Experience the High Life" -- a straightforward tag line for a product that offers a lot of liquid for a few bucks. That's better, but nowhere close to the wholesomeness of Duff Beer, which urges tipplers to "get duffed."

Budweiser pitches its suds with a mix of athleticism and humor. Duff skips the athleticism -- unless you count "Duff love" -- and goes long on humor.

In one episode, Homer tours the Duff brewery and reviews old advertising campaigns. In a clip dating from the Cold War, a loyal drinker says, "I knew I was a Commie cause I didn't drink Duff." In another ad, Duff drinkers pour their beer on a bunch of protesting feminists and turn them into bikini-clad party animals.

Who needs chatter about the alleged benefits of "liquid bread" when crummy, drippy beer -- especially Duff Beer, though Bud will do in a pinch -- cures all social pathology, impairs what you optimistically call your mental powers, and slurs your speech?

As Homer Simpson, Springfield's couch potato in residence and noted beer aficionado so wisely said: "Alcohol; the cause of -- and solution to -- all of life's problems."

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