We recently had an interesting conversation with a former executive level employee of a one of the big booze companies. He likes decent beer himself and was outraged by this.
But he also said that, in his time travelling the world for IndustroBooze, he met a lot of brewers of what most of us would consider crappy beers, and found that, to a man, they loved the beer they produced.
He said that the makers of one of the big bland American lagers drank it themselves and were genuinely convinced of its quality. They couldn’t understand why it was so reviled. After all, making it taste the way it did, consistently, was hard work for them — not just a matter of pressing a button.
Perhaps most revealingly, he described the experience of working for a big international drinks company as like being “brainwashed”. The company’s own products are wheeled out at parties; dished out as Christmas bonuses; and staff are encouraged to drink them when they’re out and about and push them to friends.
Just like mothers who think their own children are the most wonderful in the world, regardless of any evidence to the contrary, the men who slave over industrial size operations to make the bland beers most beer geeks shun think their babies are beautiful too.
PS sorry about reusing this image so soon, but we gather Stella Artois are keen to increase their profile in the world of beer blogging. Anything we can do to help!
This new advertising campaign for Stella Artois is designed to emphasise the quality of the product. It implies that Stella contains only the four traditional ingredients of beer:
That’s right — hops, malted barley, maize and water.
Maize!? Rather than trying to hide the fact they they use corn as an adjunct to make the beer cheaper, they’re boasting about it, counting on the fact that most people won’t know any better. Hardly honest, but bloody clever.
And they’ve avoided mentioning all that yucky yeast, too, in case the thought of it puts anyone off.
Eric Delia at Relentless Thirst has tipped us off to the exciting news that Budweiser are launching a UK only ad campaign, focusing “on the care that goes into making Budweiser, highlighting its history and provenance.” [Pause to choke on whatever tasty beverage you’re supping at the moment.]
Fabulous. Another boring lager being (re)marketed. I didn’t really notice it go away, although I suppose now I think about it, you see more Becks around than Bud. And quite a lot of Budvar — we Brits love an underdog, although of course Budvar isn’t quite the underdog it purports to be, as Evan Rail pointed out.
Anyway, this got me thinking about something I’ve been pondering for a while. Why doesn’t the Brooklyn brewery try a marketing campaign in London to push its wonderful lager? It would appeal on two levels. Firstly, to the discerning beer drinker who would be delighted to see it in the fridge in amongst a sea of other indistinguishable “world” lagers.
Secondly, it would surely appeal to the type of sucker who drinks any lager as long as it’s in a bottle and comes from another country. This is a big market, at least in London, given the number of identical ranges in central London pubs — Peroni, San Miguel, Corona, Brahma etc.
If good marketing can polish turds like Bud, Magners and all those bland eurolagers, imagine the effect it could have on something that’s a genuinely great product? In fact, the Magners adverts aren’t even good. We mugs really will buy anything.
I got quite excited to see that San Sebastian had a “local” lager, Keler, with basque on the labels and all. The bottles tell a story about some German brewers who set up in San Sebastian in the 1890s, yada yada yada.
However, I was disappointed. Not so much by the fact it´s the usual yellow fizz – that I was expecting – but to find out that it was now brewed by Damm in Barcelona. I thought that at least I´d be able to recommend it on environmental grounds.
Still, at least it´s not Heineken, who really do dominate San Seb (although they tend to hide under the Cruzcampo brand).
Today’s issue of Marketing Week carries a story about Heineken, who are apparently relaunching in the UK with a more “continental” image. They want people to drink Heineken in smaller measures, with a thicker head, as a “premium beer”.
This won’t do anything about the actual taste of their beer – it’s still “cooking lager” – but it is an interesting step away from British lager culture.
Marketing Week also points out how badly Heineken goofed when they relaunched last time, putting their beer’s ABV up to 5% just when everyone got upset about binge-drinking. They spent a fortune on announcing “new, stronger Heineken”, and then a year or so later their competitors were all announcing, for example, “new, weaker Becks”, or Stella, or Carling.
They’re also announcing a new “draught keg” for home use. Er… Party Seven?