What was malt liquor?

Andrew Rosenblum in Accidental Blogger:

ScreenHunter_05 Sep. 19 21.04 Malt liquor producers also noticed that African-Americans bought malt liquor in disproportionate numbers – although the marketers did not understand why. Even so, the majority of malt liquor drinkers were white, as was true even during malt liquor’s 1990’s peak. And so brewers were happy to market to members of either racial group. As you can see from these early Champale ads, the companies marketed the drink to black consumers pretty similarly as it did to whites, with images of well-dressed, happy models buying an expensive champagne substitute.

Though targeted more intensively to blacks as the 70s wore on, malt liquor continued to be directed at whites too, through spokespeople ranging from a then-unknown Ted Danson to Robin Hood. When Budweiser made an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to launch a malt liquor in 1971, white college students and young African-Americans were the target audience, as you can see from this priceless 1973 film created for Budweiser salesmen. For anyone with a love of kitsch and retro styles, hipster or not, the film borders on the sublime – with moments like the earnest nod the African-American actress gives to the host as her boyfriend explains that “’bad’ means ‘good,’” and the unintentional laugh line “Anything with the Budweiser name on it has got to be good.” The film's equal opportunity message is that Bud malt liquor is what you drink “when you really want to get down to it” and get wasted at a party, whether you're white or black.

More here.

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