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Clinking Voyeurism

Another “Here’s to Beer” effort to try bringing people back into the beer fold is “Clink,” within the social networking website MingleNow. There, members are encouraged to post photos to the site of friends clinking their glasses together. So far, a few hundred have been uploaded, many similar to this one.


Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive advertiser at the Clink portion of MingleNow, but that of course won’t stop the clinking glasses or bottles being filled with all manner of different beer. In one of my favorites currently at the site, a trio of Oktoberfest attendees enjoy mugs of Spaten.


Unfortunately, in their drive to entice younger people, most of the photos have a voyeuristic feel to them that I’m not entirely sure brings out the best in beer. Some of the photos do appear to be genuine expressions of friendship and good times shared over a pint, but a majority are exactly what you’d expect, mere titillation, especially as evidenced by the most popular photos which are voted on by MingleNow’s 300,000+ members. There are also contests for submitting pictures, such as one running now where you can win a VIP Trip to the Bud Light Aspen Spring Jam, a four day live concert festival.


As a recent BusinessWeek article put it, A-B is in “pursuit of the elusive 25-year-old Everyman. There’s the struggle to recalibrate how the brewer sells big brands in stupendous volumes amid the vicissitudes of an uncooperative and fractionalized market.” MingleNow focuses on the 21-35 nightclub demographic, which is ideal for A-B’s purposes though really it’s the 21-25 age bracket that gets most of the attention. ClickZ News and BizReport also have their own take on this story.

So my initial reaction is that this part of Here’s to Beer phase 2 push is much more helpful to Anheuser-Busch in recapturing the youth drinker than to beer as a category. It does little that I can see to realize the supposed goal of increasing beer’s share among all alcoholic beverages. Unless I’m missing something, can’t you clink a wine glass or tumbler of whiskey just as easily? As Silicon Valley business blogger Tom Foremski notes, “beer has helped build social relationships for centuries—maybe online social networks can now help build sales of beer.” Maybe, but I get the distinct impression that nobody thought through how this is really going to help persuade people to order a pint of beer instead of something else. Again, like the new Here’s to Beer website, Clink is not without it’s charms but hardly seems capable of changing anybody’s mind about the respect that good beer deserves.

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