Budweiser's Facebook-Beer Glass Helps Gen-Y Make Friends

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Since when do people need help making friends in a bar?

Some folks go to bars to sit in a corner alone and drink their troubles away. A larger majority, possibly, enjoys having a drink or two and making new friends. Never before have either group needed the help of Internet-connected beer mugs.

But, this is 2013. And these days people have to be connected by any and all means possible to do even the most simple social tasks - like striking-up a conversation in a bar.

That's where Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD) and Facebook ( FB) enter the picture. To attract new, younger drinkers they've come up with a connected drinking vessel they call the Buddy Cup for socially-conscious, next-gen Budweiser drinkers.

Here is how it works. Budweiser has created special plastic cups for use at "sponsored" events. Earlier generations used to call them "mixers". The beer is sold (possibly at a discount) in these new "Buddy Cups" to help youngsters start a conversation (in case the alcohol doesn't work).

Buddy Cup users first have to register their cup on a Web-connected smartphones by scanning the QR code on the bottom of the glass. I'm hoping they let you turn the cup over and scan before they fill it. Too messy otherwise.

Once you find another person with a Buddy Cup that you think you'd like to talk to both of you can "clink" your glasses together (hopefully without spilling the beer) and getting close enough for the wireless NFC chip/electronics in the bottom of the glass to make a connection. Now you've become instant Facebook "Buddies". The electronic hook-up will also be noted on their Facebook timelines.

For visual confirmation, a little red LED lights-up on the bottom of your glass to let everyone else know. I'm guessing you can drink your beer and talk at this point.

And you were wondering what all those features on your new smartphone were really for.

Don't take my word for it. Check out the promotional video they've created for the new glass.

A spokesperson explains that these Buddy Cups were created to "enhance brand activation and increase the interaction between Budweiser consumers." I understand that. Many companies use a bar setting to hawk products and ideas to attract young drinkers. But, few companies have gone to these technological lengths to do so.

I'm sure this will be hit a hit with the barely-21 crowd. It gives them something to do with all those technological features in their smartphones.

But, I think it's a waste of awfully good technology. I'm pretty sure it used to be a lot easier to meet someone, simply say "Hello" and if they were interested you could then talk with them without needing any electronic aids.

In early trading, Anheuser-Busch was gaining 1.28% to $95.41 and Facebook was gaining 1.75% to $27.32.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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