Beer Slobbery chronicles one man’s journey to 1,000 beers by way of Duckworth’s new HopMan Beer Club. Devon Heffer is fairly new to the craft beer scene, so he’ll undoubtedly be discovering some new beers on his journey. Find all of his past posts here.
Stay thirsty my friends.
Full disclosure, I work in marketing. It’s my day job. And as I sit here at Duckworth’s, it hits me: I couldn’t come up with anything half as good as The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Let’s consider the character. The commercials’ voiceover (by Frontline’s Will Lyman, no less) inform us TMIMITW has spent the last 50-or-so years of fighting sharks and bench-pressing hookers. Now we find him lounging in a swank watering hole, impeccably coifed, manicured, and with young women draped around his tailored muslin. Maybe we hand him a beer. Maybe he looks directly at us and says “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.”
This guy isn’t even a regular beer drinker! He has disdain for the product, yet his antipathy sells it. It’s an outstanding slice of psychological turnabout that has helped the Dos Equis brand increase sales while most imports are in decline. I slow clap in awe.
So today, in honor of Havas Worldwide New York, the advertising company that dreamed up TMIMITW, we consider beer marketing.
Rule #1 in the marketing game is to get the audience to remember the product. If they forget your name 5 minutes after they’ve seen your commercial (or viewed your billboard, or heard your radio ad) then you’ve failed. Doesn’t matter how clever the marketing is. If they don’t remember who you are, it was for nothing.
So what works?
The Bud-Weis-ERRRRRR frogs at least drilled the name into your head through constant repetition. More than I can say for some of Bud’s other modern campaigns. While the Real Men of Genius and WASSSSSUP! ads were memorable, do you remember they’re for Bud 5 minutes after you see them? Maybe not.
Same problem with the cleverly edited Coors press conference commercials. Funny? Yes. Do I remember they’re for Coors? Not until I looked it up.
Does Will Ferrell’s wry comment on beervertising make me laugh? Hell yes it does! Does it make me want to try Old Milwaukee? Hell yes it does! Unfortunately Duckworth’s doesn’t serve it. But I remember the name ‘Old Milwaukee’ after seeing these commercials. Even when Ferrell doesn’t get the whole name out.
But what about smaller and mid-sized brews?
Glad you asked hypothetical reader. I found few good ones. New Belgium does a good job featuring their people. The Sam Adams commercials make great use of their people, their product, and George Thorogood. But they appear to be outliers. Sierra Nevada plays out the tired trope that dudes are animals. Magic Hat is just confusing. And this one for Yuengling is borderline racist.
Let me make a point: I’m SURE THERE ARE MORE. I just haven’t seen a lot of great marketing for smaller brews. I don’t imagine big companies like Havas are lining up to work with the little guy. That’s fine. There’s a hole in the market and if someone wants to do something truly innovative, they can break through.
I’m looking at you NC brewers.
Let’s drink some beer.
Mother Earth Endless River (Kinston, NC) Kölsch, ABV 4.9%: Now this is what I’m talking about. An old-school German brew designed for easy drinking. It pours a skim-milky straw color with a medium head. It’s yeasty, like wine, and swallows very clean. High chugability factor. A mild fruity aftertaste. This is the kind of beer that’s very dangerous for me. I’m done with it before I even realize it.
Duckworth’s Grade: B+ My Grade: A+
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (Milton, DE) American IPA, ABV 6.0%: This is the basic brew in Dogfish’s line of hop experiments. They continuously hop it during an hour-long boil. The result is a clear amber brown with a persistent head. Some people taste a lot of citrus in the flavor, but I’m picking up on blueberries. It’s a straightforward, well-balanced IPA. (Side note for sci-fi geeks: as the head recedes, the speckled lace on my glass resembles the map from Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea novels.)
Duckworth’s Grade: B+ My Grade: B
Olde Hickory Daniel Boone Ale Aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels (Hickory, NC) American Brown Ale, ABV 8.5%: That name’s quite a mouthful, and the Duckworth’s bartendress looks at me funny when I say the whole thing. “We just call it Daniel Boone”. Oh. Well gimme one of those then. The first thing I notice is the tang of alcohol coming off of it. I should’ve guessed since it was “aged in oak bourbon barrels”. It’s a thick brown with zero head. Tastes of caramel, vanilla, and some nuttiness. Mellow, almost like bourbon. Go figure. Kind of a lingering, sweet aftertaste.
Duckworth’s Grade: (ungraded) My Grade: B
Miller Lite (Milwaukee, WI) Light Lager, ABV 4.17%: I had a chance to visit the Miller brewery years back. I was struck by the mix of high tech modernity with the low-tech history. They take you down into the old caves where they would store the beer before refrigeration. It was all quite interesting.
This beer however… it comes to me in one of those bottles with the twisted neck. As confusing a marketing ploy as I’ve ever seen. It’s apt that the bottle has a rifled barrel, because drinking what’s inside is like shooting yourself in the face.
Duckworth’s Grade: D+ My Grade: F