Back in early February I commented that the Here’s to Beer campaign, which was originally supposed to be a coalition of the nation’s breweries, was only Anheuser-Busch and the Beer Institute. Since this propaganda campaign was so obviously an A-B driven effort, I further commented that I felt this tainted the objectiveness of the Beer Institute. It turns out that they agreed, because it was reported today in a Business Week article that “The Beer Institute trade group yanked its logo off the campaign after the first television ad ran during the Super Bowl. The institute would not say why.” Anybody have a guess?
So the Here’s to Beer propaganda is now officially just an A-B effort. A-B “Vice President Bob Lachky said the company is happy to carry the banner for all brewers nationwide.”
From the article:
“The reality of it is, this program really doesn’t need brewer support,” Lachky said. “We kind of always envisioned this thing as being an Anheuser-Busch-led initiative.”
That must be why he spent a great deal of time flying around the country trying to convince other brewers to “set aside their differences and fight the common enemy of wine and spirits” and craft brewers. It’s called spin because that sounds so much better than not telling the truth or saying they were wrong.
As I’ve said before, the funny thing is that the basic idea of promoting beer is a good idea. It’s just that A-B is the absolutely worst company I can imagine to take on this task. They could make decent beer but instead make a highly engineered food product. You don’t ask Wonder Bread to teach people about what great bread is. It’s too bad the Brewers Association doesn’t have the kind of money needed to do television ads, because I can envision a group of regional breweries doing pretty effective PSAs. A concerted effort that taught people what good beer really is would have enormous long term benefits for craft brewers as a whole. But TV is a game only giants can play, so that’s not really feasible at this point.
Also from the Business Week article:
While brewers are sitting out the campaign, Lachky said Anheuser-Busch is focusing its efforts on beer wholesalers. Next week, the company will launch a Web site called http://www.herestobeermarketing.com* that will offer beer wholesalers free promotional materials.
“The thing we learned as we went along is that the real audience of this is the beer distributor,” Lachky said.
I guess going directly to their consumers didn’t work very well, so they decided on the distributors instead. At least they’re already motivated to sell beer, after all that’s their job. But it sure seems like all they’ll accomplish is promoting their own brands. I’m sure all the A-B houses will embrace this program — they’ll probably all but have to — but I can’t imagine the Coors, Miller or independent distributors will have much incentive to use A-B produced marketing materials. But that’s said sight unseen, so who knows. It will certanly be interesting to see what they come up with.
*Note: the website is not only not up right now, but the domain name has not even been registered. Business Week listed the new domain as herestobeermarkerting.com and I assume they meant herestobeermarketing.com without the errant “r.” Just to make sure, I checked both spellings and neither one has been registered. But it does strike me as odd that a week before its announced launch in a major business magazine, I could still have registered the domain name myself.