Marketing beer: a process

Click for the full size ver­sion.

The above chart is inspired by var­i­ous con­ver­sa­tions with and emails from pub­lic rela­tions and mar­ket­ing peo­ple in the last few months, many of whom seem to be strug­gling man­ful­ly to sell shite beer. Future ver­sion will no doubt be big­ger and more com­plex… sug­ges­tions wel­come.

Weasely Carling Ads


Phase one of the new Car­ling cam­paign was bad enough. But in phase two, the ad men have reached a new low. Get a load of this from the voiceover:

Car­ling know it’s impor­tant to check their bar­ley them­selves.”

A few ques­tions spring to mind:

  1. What is “check­ing” bar­ley?
  2. Is “checked” bar­ley bet­ter than any oth­er? As in, “Yeah, I checked the bar­ley – it’s absolute­ly awful, but we got it cheap.”
  3. They know it’s impor­tant, but does that even mean they do it? What­ev­er it is.

So, here’s our pro­posed slo­gan for phase three:

Car­ling know that beer is sup­posed to taste nice.”

Something to worry about?

Mean­time seem to have con­vinced pubs all over Lon­don to take what we’re assum­ing is a kegged Lon­don Pale Ale. Its green badge has been appear­ing on big tacky chrome fonts all over the city in the last few weeks, fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful launch as a bot­tled beer in some super­mar­kets ear­li­er this year.

We’ve always been fans of Meantime’s range and haven’t even mind­ed that they don’t, on the whole, both­er with cask con­di­tion­ing at their pub in Green­wich, because their beer sim­ply tastes so nice. But this keg prod­uct break­ing out into the wild could be a prob­lem: peo­ple who run trendy bars and gas­trop­ubs are like­ly to give up on cask ale alto­geth­er if they’ve got a decent-tast­ing, nice­ly mar­ket­ed keg alter­na­tive.

Then again, have we per­haps moved to a point where the method of dis­pense, all though a good rule of thumb when it comes to qual­i­ty, isn’t the be all and end all? There are some very bor­ing cask con­di­tioned ales that, although ide­o­log­i­cal­ly sound, taste much worse than some of Meantime’s kegged prod­ucts.

Is it kegged as we’re assum­ing? Has any­one tried it? Is it the same beer that’s sold at the Union as Pale Ale, lat­ter­ly known as “Late Hopped Blonde’? If you have any infor­ma­tion, the Kil­roy pro­duc­tion team would like to hear from you.

Sales of (mostly terrible) beer down

Accord­ing to adver­tis­ing trade mag Mar­ket­ing Week, sales of the top beer brands are down 5 per cent up to April 2008.

The biggest drops are in sales of Kro­nen­bourg 1664, Stel­la Artois, Carls­berg Export and Grolsch. Sales of John Smith’s Extra Smooth and Carls­berg (ordi­nary) are up.

Their say that the cur­rent ‘drink-aware cli­mate’ and Eng­land’s absence from the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship are the main rea­sons.

The first cer­tain­ly sounds plau­si­ble to us. Peo­ple we know seem to be much hap­pi­er order­ing a shandy or a ‘weak beer’ than they were a cou­ple of years ago.

And, of course, there’s been a huge defec­tion to cider from beer, as wit­nessed by boom­ing sales of Strong­bow.

Stella up to their usual tricks

A slick CGI image from the weasely new Stella ad
A slick CGI image from the wease­ly new Stel­la ad

The genius­es behind Stel­la Artois real­ly are try­ing to con­vince us of the his­tor­i­cal worth of their brew. A new adver­tis­ing cam­paign on the tel­ly makes lots of intrigu­ing ref­er­ences to “1366”, obvi­ous­ly designed to sug­gest that this is when the beer orig­i­nat­ed.

A bit of dig­ging around their web­site makes it clear that a brew­ery exist­ed in Leu­ven in 1366… Appar­ent­ly, thanks to the “courage” of some medieval monks, Stel­la Artois exists today. Er… If you dig around on their web­site, it’s quite clear that what­ev­er hap­pened in Leu­ven in 1366 has sweet Fan­ny Adams to do with Stel­la Artois.

The fun­ny thing is that they keep mak­ing ref­er­ence to the “four ingre­di­ents”. But which four? Is this the bar­ley, hops, maize and water proud­ly boast­ed of in their bill­boards? If you go into their site, they have five (not four) mini-films to illus­trate dif­fer­ent “chal­lenges” of brew­ing. Hops, water and bar­ley get a men­tion, as does yeast (unlike in the bill­boards). The fifth chal­lenge of brew­ing has noth­ing to do with mak­ing the beer, but is to do with export­ing it.

Odd­ly, maize isn’t men­tioned in these adverts. But it would be a bit tricky to square with this his­tor­i­cal her­itage angle, giv­en it orig­i­nat­ed in Mesoamer­i­ca and there­fore would have been unknown to the good burghers of Bra­bant in 1366.

I’m sor­ry, but this kind of mock his­tor­i­cal bol­locks real­ly, real­ly gets on my tits. For­tu­nate­ly, the cam­paign is way too incon­sis­tent to fool any­one.

NB – we’ve not linked to any of the Stel­la pages so as not to increase their pres­ence on the inter­web. You can find it for your­self if you have noth­ing bet­ter to do. But you real­ly ought to have some­thing bet­ter to do.

UPDATE 17/08/08: image added.