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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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What's new?
New events added including Stoke Newington Literary Festival
I had a big piece in the Guardian this week about why publicans are unhappy
Click here to hear me talking about craft beer on this week's radio 4 Food Programme!
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Announcement: The Beer Marketing Awards

Older readers will know I came into beer writing via a somewhat unlikely route.

video
My favourite of all the ads I helped create.  (No, I didn't write it.)

I used to work in advertising, and one day I was appointed to work on the campaigns for Stella Artois and Heineken.  I was responsible for strategy, and this entailed looking at trends and deeper dynamics in society and culture to establish the motivations behind the brand choices people made.  When I had to do this with beer it completely captivated me and ignited an interest that went much deeper than what I had to do for the latest Stella ad.  It ultimately led to me writing my first book, which in turn led to me developing a much broader love for and interest in beer.

When I tell this story at events or readings, it usually gets a good-natured chorus of booing and hissing. There's a suspicion among many beer fans about marketing - in its purest form, the belief is that advertising brainwashes people to drink shit, bland commercial beer instead of interesting, quality beer produced by nice people.  At best, there is at least a suspicion that many people choose beers for style over substance.

And to be fair, there is some truth in that.  Back in the day we used to tell each other that people 'drink the advertising' - but only when the beers themselves were interchangeable and pretty much identical.  Advertising can't really persuade someone to drink standard lager instead of a microbrewed IPA if the standard lager doesn't appeal to their tastebuds, but it can sure make you drink one standard lager instead of another.

Beer ads were the ads that made me want to in advertising in the first place.  The ad below is the one that I talked about in all my interviews, and I still think that it's a pretty perfect beer ad:

video
Great gags, plays to the obsession of its target audience, brand name in the punchline. Perfect.

But if beer marketing was ever just about TV ads, it isn't now, and won't ever be again.  Back when 'Dambusters' played there were only two commercial TV channels and you could be sure pretty much everyone in the target audience saw it.  And regulations meant you could get away with outlandish claims so long as you were obviously joking about hose claims.  One casualty of our binge drinking paranoia is that advertising regulatory authorities have lost their sense of humour.

Marketing in its broadest sense is, at worst, a necessary evil, and at best a great, positive addition to the experience of choosing and drinking beer.  Whether we like it or not, we are a brand-literate, marketing savvy world these days.  I regularly see great beers stymied by awful label designs.  Branded, shaped glassware is at least as much about marketing as it is about enhancing the flavour of beer.  And with more beers than ever before to choose from, we've got to find out information about them somehow.  If a brewer chooses to impart some of this information themselves rather than rely entirely on crowd-sourced web reviews, that's marketing.  When a brewer chooses a bottle shape, designs a label, launches a website, hosts a meet the brewer event, issues a press release, tweets or blogs or sends a punk dwarf to petition parliament, that's all marketing.

Beer marketers now have to be much smarter.  The tightening regulation and the explosion of different media channels, not least social media, means it's a much more complex game - but the playing field for that game is more level than it was.  Simply having the biggest budget is not enough (if it ever was - remember Watney's Red Barrel?)

This is why I was very excited indeed when two industry acquaintances approached me and asked if I would like to be involved in organising the inaugural Beer Marketing Awards.  We have so, so many awards that celebrate the beer itself - and rightly so.  But marketing should not and canot be ignored, and the best stuff deserves to be equally celebrated.  If it takes off, it might even help raise the standard of the shit stuff.

And the joy of it is, it's about the whole industry.  If you're AB-Inbev, we want to hear about the best TV ad you've made this year.  If you're Heineken, we want to know how proud you are of sponsoring the Olympics.  If you're Brew Dog we want to hear how successful your best PR stunt was.  If you're Magic Rock we want to hear about your Twitter presence.  And if you're Wye Valley, tell us about your label redesign.  Huge or tiny, established or new, every brewer does marketing of some form or another, and there's a category for everyone.  Here's the full list:




Best Advertising Campaign – Print

This category rewards outstanding marketing activity in print media. Designed a standout campaign for national newspapers? Publicised your brand to great effect in glossy magazines? This category’s for you.
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Best Advertising Campaign – Broadcast

If you’ve implemented a TV ad campaign that’s really caught the attention of the viewing public, or a series of radio slots that stop people in their tracks, you’ll want to enter this category.
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Best use of Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whatever other social media channel floats your boat – if you’ve devised a campaign that has provoked thousands of comments, likes and follows, get your entry written.
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Best Public Relations Campaign

If you’ve generated column inches by the score, captivated journalists with your creative approach, or devised an industry focused thought leadership campaign, use your most persuasive talents to tell us why you should win this category.
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Best Branding / Design

Making sure your product stands out on the shelves or behind the bar requires a well-designed and consistent brand. You’ll have a good chance of winning this category if you can demonstrate success in this area.
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Best use of Competitions

If you’re into competitions, you’ll no doubt have noted that these awards are a fine example of the genre.  If you’ve created a competition or promotion that has gained a high profile for your brand, submit your entry here.
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Best Integrated Campaign

Jack of all trades? Accomplished all rounder? If you’ve created a high quality multi-platform campaign that hits print, broadcast, social media and anything else, add it all together and submit it for this category.
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Best Stunt / Guerrilla Marketing

If, like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, your chief weapon is surprise, try and catch us unawares with your specialism for stunts or your gift for guerrilla marketing.
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Best Business to Business Campaign

Targeting the trade can be as exciting and innovative as targeting the consumer, so if you’ve concocted a campaign that persuades landlords to serve your beer, or masterminded an approach to the off-trade, here’s your category.
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Best Website

HTML, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript, PHP – if these terms make sense to you, think about developing (geddit?) an entry for this category. You’ll need to have created a site that is creative and compelling as well as technically brilliant, mind.
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Best use of Sponsorship

Sporting events, celebrities, TV programmes – if you’ve created a sponsorship package that has complemented and benefited from a partnership with any of these, you know what to do.
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Best use of Merchandise

From beermats to t-shirts, branded glassware to bottle openers – and beyond. If you’ve branded up complementary merchandise to add to your marketing campaigns, let us know how and why you did it.
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Overall Winner

No need to enter this one – we’ll choose the most impressive, innovative and successful campaign from all the above categories and give it a special award. You can bet it will deserve it.
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Outstanding Individual Achievement

Again, no need to enter this – if you’ve overachieved, chances are we’ll have heard about you anyway. You’ll need to have created a stunning body of work, either this year or throughout your career. We’ll make sure everyone hears all about it.


We're recruiting a panel of judges from the brewing, pub and creative marketing industries, as well as prominent beer writers and other industry figures.  (Some brewers will doubtless be encouraged to hear that I won't be judging myself - it's incompatible with helping organise the event and encouraging entries.)

There will be a media launch at Craft Beer Co in London on 12th September.  The competition is now open for entries, and you can enter here.  Entries will close on 10th December, and the awards event will take place at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, on March 13th 2013.  More details will be on the BMA website, which will now be updated on a regular basis with chat about beer marketing as well as details about the competition.  If you'd like to sponsor one of the above awards, we'd love to hear from you.

I'm proud to be associated with this great idea.  Whether you're a brewer or drinker, we hope you'll be as excited by it as we are.
  



9 comments:

Gary Gillman said...

This is an excellent idea and kudos to those involved. Marketing is an essential part of our business and indeed political (liberal-free market) system. Producers can inform the public of new and innovative products or why the old ones are still valuable. Consumers can learn of them and of products and their attributes in general through this medium.

Marketing and advertising are as old as commerce itself, as is branding. You can't have one without the other.

My only beef with it are vacuous, say-nothing ads which appeal essentially to lifestyle and nothing more, I think it's called aspirational advertising. I like old-fashioned ads which are literate and tell a story. A perusal of many magazine ads from the 30's-50's shows that extended narratives often explained products and their perceived advantages.

Was some of it gaseous? Yes, some of it overreached or was too folksy or off the mark, but more talk means more useful information, often. I'd like to go back to that era, where people talk mostly about the product. Early craft brewing ads did just that and many brewers still do. An example are the narratives on the neck labels of bottles of Anchor Steam's products, and that's just one example.

But all ads should have their say (except obviously if they step over the trade descriptions laws or otherwise are in violation of something). Let the informed public decide who should get the palm, hence the salutary nature of this new proposal. Well done.

Gary

Jeff Pickthall said...

How about a wooden spoon award for the brewery with the worst pumpclips?

Professor Pie-Tin said...

http://youtu.be/LuIJqF8av6I

My all-time fave.

Gary Gillman said...

Since we're giving examples, there's been some funny Molson Canadian television commercials in the annals, this is one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUqsF8vbR_Q

Gary

allegoricus said...

Best use of Merchandise, beer mats in particular:
I've been in a few pubs over recent months where beer mats are nowhere to be seen. Is this yet another cost-cutting trend?
It's bad enough that beer mats in Britain are treated as part of the inventory, and only discarded when they become hazardous to health, but to lose them altogether means putting up with pools of spilled drinks on tables, and wet-bottomed glasses that drip into your lap.

allegoricus said...

Best use of Merchandise, beer mats in particular:
I've been in a few pubs over recent months where beer mats are nowhere to be seen. Is this yet another cost-cutting trend?
It's bad enough that beer mats in Britain are treated as part of the inventory, and only discarded when they become hazardous to health, but to lose them altogether means putting up with pools of spilled drinks on tables, and wet-bottomed glasses that drip into your lap.

The BrewMaster said...

Hi. I like the concept you had given in your article. This is an excellent idea.

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