Weekly Therapy: More on beer’s image

February 6th, 2006 | Posted by Real Beer

Did you wake up this morning feeling better about beer?

Any different at all?

Should you feel different because the “Here’s to Beer” campaign officially kicked off during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl?

It wasn’t one of the commercials generally talked about this morning as every publication from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today debates who had the best spot, but Seth Stevenson of Slate did offer some thoughts:

An ad from something called the “Beer Institute” shows us people all over the world enjoying their brewskis. “Here’s to Beer,” says the tagline. I’ll drink to that. But what I’m wondering is whether I can snag some sort of fellowship at the Beer Institute. Is it like a think tank? Can I get beer tenure? (By the way, this ad was actually paid for by Anheuser-Busch. Miller is also a sponsor of the Beer Institute but apparently scoffed at the idea of random beer cheerleading. Miller spokesman quote: “We are happy and supportive of Anheuser-Busch spending its own money on an industry campaign. We will be making our own investments in marketing Miller brands.”)

Yes, A-B paid for the spot ($2.5 million for 30 seconds!) and the St. Louis-based brewing giant has been the driving force behind an effort to improve beer’s image. You may have thought we wrote enough about the subject on Friday, so we’ll try to keep the thoughts short:

- Jay Brooks has already unloaded on this campaign a couple of times in his blog. Give that a read and we’ll try to not repeat much here.

- The Here’s to Beer website looks and feels like others promoting drinks companies who command a premium price for their products: Heineken, Grey Goose Vodka, Corona and even Sam Adams.

That makes the target audience pretty obvious. When Anheuser-Busch executive Robert Lachky began promoting the idea for this effort last fall he said, “Remember, the enemy is hard liquor and wine.” He outlined a four-prong consumer campaign that would center on the social value of beer, the “romance” of the product, viewing beer differently and the health benefits of beer.

Jay complains, “If you want to turn someone on to better beer, this is not the place to send them.”

That would be the point. This campaign is not about “better beer” but about convincing consumers to buy the international lagers they are turning away from (for beer made in small-batch breweries and other drink products).

- We’ll follow with interest about how this plays out. The idea sounds good: Improve beer’s image. Then stop to think about it. Does New Belgium need a better image? Sierra Nevada? Saint Arnold Brewing? Victory Brewing? We could list hundreds more that don’t need an image facelift.

But they may well benefit by osmosis, or perhaps as the campaign takes twists and turns along the way.

Lachky promised A-B won’t get discouraged easily. “I think you’re talking about a two-year play at least,” he said.

As a follow up to the “Slainte” commercial that ran during the Super Bowl, director Spike Lee has made two spots where a celebrity is asked who he or she would share a beer with.

The first features actor Michael Imperioli, tough-guy Chris of the Sopranos, toasting another tough-guy: Humphrey Bogart. That ad may run during the Winter Olympic Games. The other commercial, expected to debut at the start of baseball season, features Lee himself toasting baseball great Jackie Robinson.

Lee knows how to tell a story, just as small-batch brewers know how to tell a story. We’re pretty sure that A-B can figure out how to tell a story, but the brewery (and other producers of international lagers) need to come up with one we want to hear . . . make that one we want to drink.

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2 Responses to “Weekly Therapy: More on beer’s image”

  1. LAist Says:

    Got beer?

    During the Superbowl we were surprised to see an ad from the Beer Institute. We’re lining up behind Slate to get a Beer Institute Fellowship. Anyway, with all the hot weather, we’ve got beer on the brain. Doesn’t a beer right now sound good? So thi…

  2. randal Says:

    All I got out of the commercial is that apparently 99.9% of the world drinks the same bland fizzy light lager but just in differently-shaped glasses. Oh boy.