Those ads that convinced them that Foster's was Australian for beer was a lie, but like any good advertisement, it was a clever and harmless lie. It managed to milk a few more desperate years out of the Crocodile Dundee mythology for that final era where Australia seemed like a distinctive and desirable destination to the average beer-drinking American.
The point that tended to shock the average American drinker the most was that the Foster's on sale in America is brewed by the giant Canadian brewer, Molson, in Canada. It has no Australian content whatsoever apart from that overwrought accent used in the ads.
The giant global brands of beer have become as characterless and amorphous as the corporations that own them, spawning a new category of beer: the faux import. A beer, once associated with a very specific region, torn from its roots and brewed anywhere. For example, Beck's, once only brewed in Bremen, Germany and whose label contains Bremen's coat of arms is now made in Algeria, Australia, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Hungary, New Zealand, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. The brand is no guarantor of origin.
One of the last global holdouts to licensing other breweries to brew a mass market lager was Heineken. Alfred (Freddy) Heineken, the now deceased president of Heineken International was an impassioned supporter of the beer remaining true to its origins. In the words of the beer hunter, Michael Jackson:
Freddy Heineken had his own article of faith: that a proper lager cannot be made in fewer than 60 days, while most of its rivals worldwide would settle for 21 or even 14. He insisted that, in the American market, the beer remain a true import, and not be brewed under license. He was passionately proud of the Heineken yeast.
Since Freddy's death in 2002, now when you reach for a Heineken in Australia chances are that it was brewed by Lion Nathan in Australia.
The move from importing beer to brewing a faux import in Australia has been more of a sleight of hand than a con. Every single beer is labeled with "brewed under licence" by whichever local company is supplying the brewery but there is still a cheesy element of trickery. On one side of the locally-brewed Carlsberg bottle it says "By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court" and on the other side it says "By Foster's Australia". The Japanese beer Kirin Ichiban, relabeled in the Australian market with a bold white calligraphy stroke on its front and subtitled in Japanese kanji script looks much more Japanese than the original beer that it copies. The locally brewed Stella Artois has "Belgium's original beer" plastered across the label.
If you look hard enough, you can also see the dove stuffed up their sleeve.
While it is (generally) cheaper to brew a beer in the same country where it will be consumed, the price of the faux import beer hasn't changed. You can still buy the imported beer alongside the faux-import at exactly the same price at major liquor outlets. Which makes me wonder, why do drinkers submit to bland and expensive local beers that pretend to be imported, when they could be drinking a cheaper, equally bland local beer without the pretense?