Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

To celebrate deal with National Park Service, "Budweiser is rolling out limited-edition patriotic packaging featuring the iconic silhouette of Lady Liberty." (Photo by 13thWitness for Budweiser)

To celebrate deal with National Park Service, "Budweiser is rolling out limited-edition patriotic packaging featuring the iconic silhouette of Lady Liberty." (Photo by 13thWitness for Budweiser)

Corporate Bedfellows: Parks Service and Budweiser Team Up in Dubious 'Co-Branding' Scheme

'It is both telling and troubling that the current National Park Service leadership sees its core values best reflected in beer ads'

Sarah Lazare

What do the National Park Service (NPS) and Anheuser-Busch—the largest beer brewing corporation on the planet—have in common? They are both desperate to attract young people and bring in large amounts of cash.

That is the basis of a new $2.5 million "co-branding" partnership between the two entities—in what critics warn signals the ever-creeping "corporatization" of national parks.

Approved by NPS director Jon Jarvis in January, the deal comes with a considerable perk for the company, which brews Budweiser beer: a waiver of the agency's long-standing policy that prohibits association of the National Park Service with alcoholic beverages.

An internal NPS memorandum reveals that, instead, the two entities will focus on "aligning the economic and historical legacies of two iconic brands." The document, which was obtained by the organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), states that both entities already share the "same goals surrounding relevancy, diversity, and inclusion."

So they will engage in "Co-branding with a goal of attracting a younger population to the NPS and the corporate brand," the document adds.

However, PEER executive director Jeff Ruch told Common Dreams that what is being called a "proud partnership" has much more to do with NPS eagerness to make corporate deals in a bid to raise $1 billion for its corporate endowment. "They appear to be saying yes to whichever corporation is willing to walk into their door," said Ruch.

The company, for its part, seems thrilled. Anheuser-Busch made a special Earth Day announcement that the partnership has inspired it to roll out some new advertising: "In celebration, Budweiser is rolling out limited-edition patriotic packaging featuring the iconic silhouette of Lady Liberty."

"We want to encourage a new generation of beer drinkers to get out there and see what America is made of," said Brian Perkins, vice president, Budweiser. "And where better than in America’s national parks? It’s fitting for Budweiser—a big, bold brand—to team up with a pioneering partner like [National Park Foundation]. We are looking to draw attention to these parks with our eye-catching packaging...as well as a pretty epic surprise concert this summer."

However, one piece of Budweiser advertising has already been catching people's eyes, and not in a good way.

The Bud Light advertising campaign heralding "The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night" attracted heated controversy over concerns that the company was, in fact, endorsing acts from sexual assault to drunk driving. While the company has since ceased the campaign, critics say that this does not mean the NPS is in the clear.

"Once it has gotten into bed with its corporate partner, the Park Service cannot pick and choose which market messaging it will embrace and which it will ignore," said Ruch. "It is both telling and troubling that the current Park Service leadership sees its core values best reflected in beer ads."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Violent Threats Against FBI Soar as Trump Lies About Mar-a-Lago Search

Menacing messages posted online "include a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters" and "general calls for 'civil war' and 'armed rebellion,'" officials warned.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Biggest Win for Tax Fairness' in Decades: Progressives Cheer Reforms in IRA, Demand More

"While this bill establishes desperately needed changes to our tax laws and IRS funding, it is still a far cry from the systemic changes that we need in our society to rectify the hold the rich still have on every level of our economy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Care Can't Wait': IRA a Good Start, Progressives Say, But More Is Needed

"Americans deserve a full loaf of bread," said health justice advocate Ady Barkan.

Kenny Stancil ·


'I'm Back': Fetterman Returns to Campaign Trail Following May Stroke

"I'm not only grateful to be alive, but also for the campaign we're building together," said the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat.

Kenny Stancil ·


Because Climate Science 'Does Not Grade on a Curve,' Experts Says IRA Not Enough

"There is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching measures to prevent climate chaos," said the head of one progressive consumer advocacy group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo