Three fairly recent developments in the frothy beer business lead to the title of this post:
- The craft brand that isn’t really a beer.
- The no name brand that isn’t really a no name.
- Big Beer advertising that appears to be cannabis-infused.
The craft brand that isn’t really a beer
The Alberta craft brewing trade was buzzing about WaterShed Brewing Co so much that brand signage and other marketing material started showing up at licensed establishments . If a patron orders one, however, they get water. That’s because Watershed is not commercially available—it’s a home brew that somehow became famous. It’s made by a lovely fellow named Kurt Pearson, for his personal consumption only, in a (you guessed it) watershed.
The no name brand that isn’t really a no name
For Doug Ford’s ‘Buck-a-Beer’ Family Day long weekend this year, Loblaw Company Limited (Loblaw) launched no name beer. It was the only company to do so. No name sold out, then went up to $1.825 a bottle after the long weekend, parity-priced with low-end Labatt Blue. Except that according to experts (The Beer Sisters) , the liquid isn’t as good as Blue.
This is strange behaviour for the company that pioneered no name branding in Canada. Their formula is to make something as good as, or preferably better than, the leading comparable brand and sell it cheaper because you aren’t investing in brand-building. Also Loblaw did this right after misstepping their way through the previous Labour Day weekend, pricing PC Genuine Lager at $1 a bottle . Curious.
Loblaw has since reduced no name pricing to $1.65 per bottle, same as PC Genuine Lager. We believe there have been no improvements to the liquid.
Big Beer advertising that appears to be cannabis-infused
If the creative team at Leo Burnett drank the product for inspiration, that is. Their first work for AB InBev, Coors Light is now the official beer of:
- Being done wearing a bra.
- Drinking in the shower.
- Saturday morning.
When you see #1 above in TV ad format, it makes good strategic and creative sense. But promoting drinking in the shower and first thing in the morning? There’s no parody here, no we’re-having-you-on wink. They’re serious. You can see the spots here, but do yourself a favour and watch Stephen Colbert’s send-up of the Coors Light ‘Made to Chill’ campaign below.
Sorry, but AB InBev deserves this. Yes, only in the beer business…
- Stephanie Dubois, “Meet Watershed Brewing Co.: Alberta’s most real fake brewery”, cbc.ca/news, Jul 26, 2019.
- Crystal Luxmore, “A Beer Sommelier Tries The New No Name Beer“, chatelaine.com/food/drinks/, Mar 5, 2019.
- Leslie Wu, “Ontario Introduces A Beer With No Name”, forbes.com, Feb 28, 2019.