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 thoughts on “Beer blogging as marketing tool”

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Oh, and it’s also pre­sum­ably no coin­ci­dence that Beck­’s and Stel­la are made by the same com­pa­ny. Keep an eye out for Blog­ging­ton’s, the Screen of Man­ches­ter.

  5. 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

  6. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?”

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

  11. What new lat­est infor­ma­tion can there be on a beer brewed by the INBEV fam­i­ly for cen­turies .

  12. 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!

  13. 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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