Anheuser-Busch debuted Michelob Ultra in 2002 under the impression the active and physically fit enjoy getting drunk like the rest of us. Since then, the marketing minds behind the pale lager with 97 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs have done their damndest to promote the beverage as the beer of choice of golfers, cyclists, unbelievably attractive Ultimate Frisbee players, and Lance Armstrong.

lance-armstrong-michelob-ultraThe seven consecutive Tour de France winner and individual with the world’s highest resting metabolic rate signed a three-year deal in 2009 to be the spokesperson for the Michelob offshoot, encouraging drinkers to “Live live to the Ultra.” Part of Armstrong’s duties on behalf of the brand include starring in a web series.

The Ultra Reward is a multi-part program/contest which initially asked individuals in need of motivation to submit videos for a chance to win a training session with one of the most physically fit individuals on the planet. The show documents the winner’s training sessions and conversations with Armstrong in Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop and around Austin, Texas.

It’s not good for two reasons:

  1. I understand world class athletes and people with Polar watches like to drink beer, but advertising alcohol (and not the kind that’s good for you) on the website of the for-profit arm of a non-profit foundation that bills itself as “the definitive daily health, fitness, and lifestyle destination,” seems at best, antithetical to the site and foundation’s purpose and at worst, kinda wrong.
  2. The Ultra Reward is boring. I’m all about watching Armstrong climb the Col du Tourmalet, but seeing him watch submission tapes and play a forced game of buddy-buddy with a stranger on top of a dulcet soundtrack doesn’t strike me as entertaining or inspiring.

Armstrong should stick to starring in the sporty Michelob Ultra commercials and Livestrong would do well to find better ways of financially supporting its mission of healthy living.

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