Category Archives: marketing

Over/Under Represented, Pt 2

On Friday, we asked people to tell us which breweries they think get more than their fair share of attention, and which are being overlooked.

The results were interesting, though perhaps not quite in the way we had hoped.

There are going on for c.1,300 breweries in Britain (the numbers are disputed) but there were hardly any names put forward for either list that were not familiar to us from blog posts or newspaper articles. That rather confirmed our view that, if no-one is raving about Bloggs’s Brew Co of Dufton, it’s probably because the beer it produces is, at best, unremarkable. Or, to put that another way, there are only a handful of breweries really worth writing home about.

Continue reading Over/Under Represented, Pt 2

100 WORDS: Feeding the Beast

A brewery does something annoying or offensive — what do you do?

If you don’t challenge, you’re letting them off the hook.

But if you write or Tweet about it, you shine a light on their stunt — just what they want — and your reaction, however negative, ends up being counted as an ‘engagement’ in a marketing executive’s ‘return on investment’ report.

It will probably also gain them even more attention when it’s reported as ‘BEER GEEKS OUTRAGED’ in the trade press two days later.

We tend to ignore, because, frankly, stunts are boring, and ignoring is easier… but should we?

Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

That was an idle Tweet from the pub (Wetherspoon’s) where we’d just had a pint of real ale billed as ‘rum and raisin’ from a brewery we’d never heard of.

We didn’t expect much but it was actually pretty tasty — a solid, fairly dark best bitter. Based on how we codified our thoughts on expectations back in January, it was merely enjoyable but unexpectedly so, and therefore a pleasant surprise.

As for the mention of hype, we did, unfortunately, have in mind Siren/Magic Rock/Beavertown Rule of Thirds. (We say ‘unfortunately’ because it has become the centre of some fractious debate between brewers and drinkers.) Back in October, it was trailed thus:

The Rule of Thirds takes 1/3 of each of our individual recipes and process’ & promises to bring together the best of each of our flagships and come up with something greater than the sum of the parts. Which is no small boast.

Continue reading Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

Let There Be Beer 2.0

Last year, big players in the beer industry banded together to run a campaign called Let There Be Beer.

Its ostensible aim was to raise the profile of beer in general terms but, in practice, it ended up being a series of excruciatingly bald product placement opportunities for those who’d provided the funding, e.g. Carlsberg.

As far as we can tell, the public were indifferent — we didn’t see any mention of it among our ‘not beer’ friends on Facebook, for example — and beer geeks, on the whole, found it rather reprehensible. Regulators weren’t keen, either, which seems to have been the final nail in its coffin.

Continue reading Let There Be Beer 2.0

Pretentious and Complicated

“I like to reward myself by trying different, flavourful beers, but I’m intimidated by most craft beers because they’re too pretentious and complicated.”

Those are the words ascribed to an imaginary beer consumer by those responsible for marketing AB-InBev’s Shock Top in Canada, as revealed in a leaked document shared by Ben T. Johnson yesterday.

Johnson is outraged that the marketing strategy apparently relies on fooling ill-informed, well-intentioned consumers into buying what they think is the product of a small independent brewery. Broadly speaking, we agree, at least on the issue of transparency: of course there’s nothing wrong with big breweries attempting to ‘do’ craft, but misleading consumers by failing to clearly declare ownership of the brand is rotten behaviour.

What really interested us, however, is the idea that there’s an unexploited middle-ground between so-called ‘macro gak’ and full-on, high-falutin Craft Beer, capital C, capital B.

There’s long been a balancing act in beer — or, if you like, a tension. On the one hand, some in the industry, along with serious enthusiasts, feel aggrieved that beer is treated as second class, simplistic and unworthy. They believe that it deserves the same kind of infrastructure of connoisseurship as wine — books, magazine columns, arcane lore, celebrities, vintages, sommeliers, a place at the dinner table, specialist tasting glasses and rituals, and so on.

But elevate it too far and, suddenly, it’s inaccessible and over-complicated: “If you’re not going to take this seriously, please don’t bother!” (Perhaps this is what we were getting at with yesterday’s post.)

The AB-InBev/Labatt document describes Shock Top as a ‘fun, flavourful craft brand’, and perhaps that’s a bandwagon Craft Beer should jump on: fun doesn’t need to mean dumb; and respecting beer doesn’t have to mean putting it on a pedestal.