Friday’s ad is for Labatt’s ’50’ Ale, from 1956. This is another example of my theory that beer in the Fifties was much more “friendly” than today. I keep finding examples of beer companies at that time describing their beer as “friendly” in advertising, but this is the first Canadian example I’ve come across. I do love the backyard party scene, such a happy-looking gathering. How friendly, just like the beer.
Tuesday’s ad is for Moosehead, from 1955. With a moose up a tree, perched above them, two hunters are stumped as to what happened to the animal they were tracking. “You’d Almost Think It Flew Away ….” The footprints just stopped. These are apparently not the smartest hunters in the Maritimes. One too many Mooseheads, I suspect.
From the press release:
Labatt Breweries of Canada today announced that it has purchased Mill Street Brewery, an award-winning craft brewer based in Toronto. The deal will allow Mill Street to deepen its traction with consumers in the fast growing craft beer segment, where it has an extraordinary variety of unique beers, as well as brew pubs in both Toronto and Ottawa. To help achieve this, Labatt will immediately invest $10 million in Mill Street’s Toronto brewery, which includes a state-of-the-art brewhouse and packaging capabilities.
“Mill Street has continually distinguished itself with its energy and success in innovation, and powerful commitment to great-tasting quality beer,” said Labatt president Jan Craps. “Our partnership and investment will accelerate its growth in one of the most dynamic beer segments, while fully preserving Mill Street’s creative character and pioneering spirit.”
“With the success of Mill Street has come the challenge of serving a growing demand for our brands,” said Irvine Weitzman, Mill Street CEO, who will continue with Mill Street along with co-founder Steve Abrams and famed brewmaster Joel Manning. “Our partnership with Labatt is a natural evolution in our growth that will allow more Canadians to enjoy our beer and secure the legacy of our brands by allowing us to remain focused on the authentic characteristics that have made Mill Street what it is today.”
Founded in Toronto’s Distillery District in 2002, Mill Street is an award-winning craft brewery and the largest producer of certified organic beer in Canada. It has won numerous beer quality awards including the Canadian Brewery of the Year Award in three consecutive years. Core brands include Ontario’s first organic beer, Mill Street Original Organic Lager, along with 100th Meridian, Tankhouse Ale, and Cobblestone Stout. The brewer is also renowned for permanent specialties including a strong golden ale Betelgeuse, an Irish-style red ale Bob’s Bearded Red and nitrogen-charged Vanilla Porter, as well as for several small-batch specialty beers.
“Throughout our history, our dedication to our craft and our passion for pushing the envelope have allowed Mill Street to make waves in Canada’s craft beer segment,” said Abrams. “We are excited about the prospect of working with Labatt to build even further on our successes and sharing our brands with more beer lovers across Canada.”
Mill Street brands will continue to be brewed under the expertise of brewmaster Joel Manning.
“This investment in a state-of-the-art brewhouse that Mill Street will run on a stand-alone basis positions us to reach the very top of our craft,” added Manning. “We couldn’t be more pleased by this fantastic opportunity to further entrench our reputation for innovation and quality, and bring more great brands to more consumers.”
From left to right: Irvine Weitzman, Mill Street CEO, Jan Craps, President of Labatt, Joel Manning, Brewmaster at Mill Street, and Steve Abrams, Co-Founder of Mill Street. (CNW Group/Labatt Breweries of Canada)
Wednesday’s ad is for Labatt’s Pilsener, from 1955. First of all, there’s a funny-looking moose sitting on a stump wearing boots and a flannel shirt. Beyond “The Swing Is Definitely To Labatt’s,” there are some gems in the copy for this ad. “When thirst has you by the horns, just call for a tall, cool glass of sparkling Labatt’s PILSENER,” and “the wonderful dryness of Pilsener makes any thirst vaMOOSE fast!” There’s also a pretty interesting claim toward the bottom of the ad. “The only beer in the world endorsed by brewmasters of seven other breweries.” I wonder which ones?
Tuesday’s ad is for O’Keefe, from 1958. “The Choice Is Yours!” reminds of the Blues Brothers movie, when the band plays at an old honky tonk, and the owner tells them what kind of music they feature. “We have both kinds of music: country and western.” In this case the choice is between “O’Keefe Old Stock Ale” and “O’Keefe Ale.” This first is “hearty and full-bodied” while the second is “smooth and light.” So they have both kinds.
Tuesday’s ad is for John Labatt Limited, from 1943. Apparently part of a wartime series, as this first one is marked “Famous Signals of the Royal Canadian Navy, No. 1.” Labatt directed a lot of its advertising during World War II toward extolling the virtues of the Canadian army and navy, and in this one they even promote “the Overseas League Tobacco Fund” to ensure soldiers won’t run out of cigarettes.
Friday’s ad is for Carling’s Red Cap Ale, from 1952. “Be Light-Hearted! Stay Light-Hearted! Step up to Carling’s!” The illustration shows a couple entwined with beer mugs, but apparently disagreeing on why they like the beer. One says “Light as the smoothest drink!” The other one believes its “Hearty as only an ale can be!” My vote is for hearty.
Monday’s ad is for Molson Export Ale, from 1950s. The man in the illustration does look happy. After all, he’s got a “”deep armchair” and the promise of “quiet relaxation.” All he needs is a beer to make his time off perfect … unless of course he’s got a wife and kids that won’t be thrilled about him spending the evening quietly sipping beer in his comfy chair.
Saturday’s ad is for Carling’s Black Label and Red Cap Ale, from the 1950s. I guess they were trying to make it look sophisticated with the castle mansion, Rolls Royce and man in a tuxedo. The tickets next to the bottle read “The International Look.” These were apparently their “modern new labels,” and boy howdy does that make the difference in how a beer tastes. This is one approach that the big breweries take that I’ve never quite understood. I understand that packaging is, and should, be updated from time to time, sometimes in small increments and occasionally a complete overhaul. But it’s not really newsworthy, it’s not what consumers care about. I’m arguably more interested in beer labels and packaging than the average beer drinkers, and I find these ads absurd, so how insignificant must they seem to regular folks? Why would they assume it matters that the label has changed? If people notice and sales go up on their own then the new packaging is a success. Telling them they should notice and care that the same beer inside the bottle now has a spiffy new label is, in my opinion, a pretty tough, and pointless, sell.
But if they’re going for sophistication, take a closer look in the bottom right-hand corner. What the hell is that character? A weird barrel-shaped man with a flat head wearing all-white, except for a black top hat and a striped shirt. That doesn’t look particularly sophisticated to me.