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Blogging and writing marketing

Beer blogging as marketing tool

First, Stella started their blog. I’m not linking to it as I don’t want to increase their Google rankings, but you can read Stonch about it here, A Good beer blog on it here, and Tandleman discussing it too. The blog itself is pretty dull, and aside from adding a few beer blogs to its blogroll to look authentic, it makes no attempt to go out and engage with the blogosphere.

Now it looks like Becks are having a go, and advertising for a beer blogger. The advert’s on the front page of their site if you fancy applying, although I think liking Becks might be an “essential” rather than a “desirable” part of the job spec. Also they specify you have to be between 21 and 30 – age discrimination, surely? The age requirement now seems to have disappeared from the website – someone’s realised they’re subject to EU law.

At least making it a full time job means that they might be making more of a go of it – i.e. presumably this blogger will be going around the blogosphere, doing the rounds, taking part in debates, perhaps even linking to others. It sounds like Becks “get” blogging a bit more than the Stella people do and realise that it’s not just a case of posting corporate pearls of wisdom and expecting a buzz to create itself.

Even so, it’s difficult to see what they’re trying to achieve from this. Firstly, it ain’t gonna work – the beer blogging community isn’t going to suddenly start plugging Stella or Becks just because someone writes a blog. We’re a bit too savvy for that, surely? Secondly, even if it did work, who cares? Much as I love the beer blogging world, I’ve enough humility to know that we’re not movers and shakers in the mass market. The average Bud drinker is not going to switch to Becks because a beer blogger writes about it.

We’ve come to the conclusion that it’s being done because it’s the latest “cool” thing in marketing, even if there’s no evidence that it actually works. The marketing team / agency can explain to the board that their exciting campaign features Web 2.0 technology and get to look creative and cutting-edge.

The other potential achievement from this is to increase search-engine rankings, and perhaps hope to pick up a lazy journalist (of which there are many) who will reproduce stories and press releases. However, beer bloggers can help subvert the effect of the this by writing (and more importantly, linking to) honest, critical articles on genuine beer blogs about Becks and Stella Artois.

Boak

Thanks to Appellation beer for the Becks story.

15 replies on “Beer blogging as marketing tool”

Corporate blogs can be handy if they’re done well. They’re basically just an informal way to issue press releases.

Yes, but why would you ever visit them unless you were already interested in the product, and therefore would be visiting their site anyway?

There seems to be a lot of this “let’s have a blog, let’s have a MyPlace page” without thinking about what the want to achieve by doing so. This applies to many worlds other than beer. Even government departments are keen to get in on the act, and the results range from boring to embarrassing.

I think your point about search-engine rankings is an important one. I suspect the Google algorithm has been altered in the last year or so to give extra weight to blogs: I don’t believe that there’s been that much growth in the blogosphere in recent years. It’s probably part of the integration of Blogger into Google. This may be why the marketeers are pitching to run blogs for their clients, in addition to the missed-point fashion thing.

It won’t last, however. A few too many corporate pseudo-blogs (with no Google ads) and the algorithm will be readjusted to emphasise something else. I’m preparing my audition for the job of official Beck’s podcaster right now.

Hi there, my name’s Tim and I represent Stella Artois.

I read your post about beer blogs and wanted to clarify a few points. The reason Stella Artois launched the Digital Newsroom is to give journalists, bloggers and anyone else interested in the brand an easy way to get the latest news, as well as other resources like photographs, images and videos.

We certainly welcome discussion about the stories posted in the Newsroom – on the site in the Comments areas, or elsewhere on blogs like Boak and Bailey – so we’re glad that you’ve picked up on it. We included the Stella Links, Blog Roll and Related Links to help people find other useful or entertaining sites that talk about beer or Stella Artois, and overtime we’ll probably expand the list.

Thanks for taking a look at the Newsroom and we’d certainly welcome suggestions for features or information you think might improve it.

Cheers,

Tim

Tim — to me, that doesn’t sound like a blog — it sounds like straightforward website with some of the trappings of a blog.

If you want to make the newsroom a proper blog, you need someone out and about, commenting openly and freely on other blogs. You need to welcome comments, even critical ones, and see that as an opportunity to defend your brand. If I were to comment critically on the most recent post on the newsroom, for example, and link to this critical post on our site, would that comment be accepted?

The challenge with Stella Artois is that it’s really not a very nice beer, and certainly can’t compete with, say, Budvar, which is readily available in many of the same outlets. So how would anyone who is genuinely enthusiastic about beer be able to write for the blog? To speak enthusiastically about the product without coming across as insincere?

In fact, who is the blog written by? It doesn’t seem to have a particular author or personality behind it, which is half the fun of reading blogs.

In terms of specific features or information that might improve it, how about some really open and clear information about what is in the beer and why? And who makes it? At the moment, I can’t help but picture a great big industrial facility in Luton and a lot of disinterested people shovelling corn into big vats…

Apparently the brewery where British Stella is made isn’t in Luton. I think it might be in Wales.

I’m witnessing Stella’s brand image issues over the bar on a daily basis. However those drinkers who reject it with a sneer are opting for other InBev products we sell – Becks Vier and Staropramen.

Where is Staropramen made these days? Last time I checked (which was a while back) it was still being made in the Czech Republic, but I’ve seen several people suggest it’s made in the UK now.

That is one thing I haven’t heard of at all. It is widely known that Pilsner Urquell is brewed in Poland and Russia (officially, only to meet the demands of those markets). But at least here, I haven’t read any info about Staropramen being brewed in the UK, I woudln’t be surprised, though.
As far as I know, Staropramen is still being brewed in Smíchov. Perhaps some batches of some of the line are brewed in Ostrava, but that’s it.
BTW I agree with Bailey 100%. Regardless of what we might think about the beer, what they are doing is not a blog at all. It’s just a PR outlet for the company. At least, they are open about it, because there have been a number of cases where firms paid bloggers for good reviews of their products.
I wonder if Stella Artois “blog” will anser to the question “Why has InBev degraded Staropramen in order to push Stella into the Czech market?”

here is another ‘marketing’ question: any thoughts on the top 10 belgian beer names? 🙂

Interestingly, the next stage of the application for Becks is to write a short piece about someone who’s said no to something on principle.

Perhaps they do get it, after all? Or is the correct answer “I think saying no to something on principle is STUPID”?

Andreea – I’ll have a think and add to your list on your site!

Boak I suspect it will depend on the quality of the writing, the honesty of the person behind the blog and how they make the site worth reading. Dell and Microsoft have turned around some of their PR issues by improving their customer interaction, so frankly there could be good content it’s all up to the Marketing people and how much freedom the writer gets and what they do with it.

I think that has been my biggest disappointment about Miller’s Brew Blog the site never does interviews with the people that make the beer, interact with the larger blog community, and sticks mostly to subscriber only based news sources. It has really been a waste.

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