I’m always fascinated to watch brands try to reinvent themselves in order to turn around sagging sales and respond to emerging market trends. Some succeed. Many don’t.
Past Blue Ribbon, a storied beer that was founded by Jacob Best, Sr., in 1844, is attempting to resurrect its once prolific profile as one of America’s top brews. (Note: Today, Pabst is a fifth place also-ran in the beer wars with 2.6 percent of the market).
To do so, Eugene Kashper, the new owner and a very successful Russian brewer, is attempting to strike the delicate balance that just about every organization in every sector is launching as we speak: How does one maintain a relationship with long-time, albeit aging, brand loyalists while attracting the white hot Millennial market that demands a personalized relationship with the products and services they choose?
Not surprisingly, Pabst is following the lead of many other brands trying to accomplish the same goal:
– Remind buyers and potential buyers of the company’s heritage. That establishes the brand as one that has weathered many storms over the centuries and will do so once again (Think: Those nauseating Dodge boys TV commercials).
– Show buyers and prospective buyers what they’re doing now to become more relevant and contribute to the greater good (The current Boeing TV spots are a prime example).
– Paint a vision for the future. No brand does a better job at numbers two and three than GE.
But, reincarnation can be a slippery slope that some brands will never climb.
Do the post-Gulf spill disaster commercials run by BP, that not only boast the Gulf waters and shores are cleaner than ever, but also praise the global organization for the massive work they’ve done to clean up their own mess, ring true? I don’t think so. Not for a minute. Sorry, BP. But all the advertising in the world won’t change your legacy of having been the perpetrator of the greatest environmental disaster in our nation’s history.
And, have you caught the new spots from SeaWorld? Miraculously, the benighted, far-sighted and animal-loving management has suddenly decided it will no longer breed killer whales or have them perform in aquatic shows at theme parks. Gee, I wonder what caused them to do a complete 180?
SeaWorld is the theme park version of BP. No matter what they say or do, they’ll be forever remembered as the guys who captured and, in some cases, abused killer whales and their offspring.
There will be no brand resurrection for either organization.
Getting back to Pabst Blue Ribbon, I must say I like their new strategy. In addition to opening microbreweries (a no-brainer if there ever was one), Pabst is looking to bring back many of the 77 brands and recipes they pioneered over a century-and-half of brewing. That’s smart, since it combines retro-chic with modern tastes. So, keep an eye open for everything from Colt .45 (ugh) to Olympia coming soon to a saloon near you.
Only time will tell if Pabst successfully straddles the Baby Boomer/Millennial taste divide, but this blogger for one is lifting his bottle of National Bohemian (another long-forgotten, but soon-to-be resurrected brand) hoping they succeed.
amazing some succeed your article
Interesting insights, Matt. I liken the big Anerican beer brands to the big American automotive companies. I believe both still produce an inferior product. While I’m primarily a Sauvignon blanc/Sancerre guy, I love to sample the local microbrew whenever I’m on the road. In my opinion, the big brands simply can’t match the tender loving personalized care that micro brewers invest in their product.
Very interesting post. Sadly, in the world of beer marketing, money talks. My first taste of beer at age 9 (thanks to my miscreant Uncle Wally) was PBR. It tasted like shite then, and it still tastes like shite. But so do ALL of the top-selling beers in the USA. No. 1 Bud Light and No. 2 Coors Light sell more beer than next four most-popular beer labels combined. Why? Advertising dollars.
Bud Light and Coors Light probably spend hundreds of millions peddling their swill…and it works. George Orwell’s Big Brother is really Big Beer. We’re living in an era when most Americans can get a great-tasting craft beer at their local bar or store. Yet still they buy garbage because they’re told it’s cool.
Hear hear! As a lover of PBR (both for taste and price) I am looking forward to raising a class of that ice cold, cheap beer in honor of this post.
(And a full pitcher at Desmond’s is $7!)