Apr 7 2009

Triple Hopped or Russian Roulette?

Miller Lite is triple hopped. It’s true. They have a commercial that tells you that and everything.

Yeah, I think this is an amazing claim and I’m not going to dwell on it too much. It is a lager beer and touting its hoppiness, and use of hops, is laughable. Yes, lagers of course use hops, but the bottom line of the style is balance and smoothness. The marketing of their hopping schedule would make sense if they made beers where you could perceive the presence of hops at all, and big hop would not be to the style. But I digress.

This campaign of theirs had me thinking about the marketing of the macro-breweries, and I’m wondering if we are seeing a change in tactics from the big boys. Back in the day (yeah, THAT day), the commercials were all about being funny and throwing together any b-list entertainers and athletes they could. And I loved those commercials.

This trend has continued through the years from talking frogs to women having catfights in public fountains. What I think is interesting here is that the macros are actually starting to talk about their beers. Although beer sales have been down over the last few years for the entire industry, craft breweries have been grabbing up market share at a wonderfully alarming rate. These craft brewers have, and rightfully so, been turning the public’s attention to their flavorful and well-made brews rather than the coolness factor that the big boys have been living, and now dying, on.

Sam Adams has been doing a great job with big media in getting across the importance of ingredients and integrity. Frankly, they are one of the few who have the dollars to market through commercial and not through viral campaigns like the smaller craft brewers. (And, yes, it is hugely debatable whether or not you can classify a brewer that produces that many barrels of beer a year as still being a craft brewer.)

And I know that one gimmick does not make a trend, but I’m wondering if the Bud and Miller are going to try to play the quality game. They are amazing brewers and the beers they make are very difficult to brew from a technical standpoint. But this marketing direction just might force consumers to think about whether or not what the macros are making is worth drinking. I think that is a game of Russian roulette that they don’t want to play.

(I’ll spare you the Deer Hunter clip….)