Tag - Marketing

Watershed and the Container Store
This Year’s Best Superbowl™ Ad You Won’t See During the Game
The Best PR Email Ever
Followup: Maker’s Mark Completes the New Coke Maneuver

Watershed and the Container Store

Watershed merchandising at the Container Store
I saw a tweet from Watershed Distillery (one of Columbus’s two excellent micros) today containing the picture above. It seems that the Container Store has chosen to stick two Watershed bottles (Vodka and Four Peel Gin) in a display in every location in the United States. Well done, guys.

It is a well-chosen display, actually. Watershed’s minimalist labeling, and square-shouldered bottles go well with the chain’s clean-lined aesthetic, and the label colors of these two go well with the shelving and other accessories for the display.

For those of you who are unfortunate enough to not have Watershed in your market, don’t steal the displays. If you didn’t realize yourself, the batch number on these display bottles is “01”. I think there are likely more Container Stores in America than there were bottles in batch one of either of these liquids…. Just order yourself some from Binny’s.

(Mandatory legal disclaimer: My wife owns stock in the Container Store (Symbol: TCS), and I drink a lot of Four Peel….)

This Year’s Best Superbowl™ Ad You Won’t See During the Game

Anna Kendrick Behind the Scenes Newcastle
Anna Kendrick: Beer Commercial Hot?
I’m going with a tentative Yes.

Confession time: I am one of those people who watches the Superbowl for the ads. In fact, I usually DVR the Superbowl, and fast forward through the game to get to the commercials. Why? The last time I watched a sporting event live in which a team I actually cared about won that game was literally in 2011. Sportsfans, pay me to become an avid fan of your team’s biggest rival….

But I still like the ads. Each year, the ad companies trot out their best ideas, and there always some heartwarming, hilarious, and weirdly fascinating results. Sure, there are still clunkers, but the ad industry’s winners ratio in Superbowl ads is way better than the motion picture and television industries’. And a zillion people watch them, which is why companies spend so much to run those ads. And then, the best ones get replayed endlessly on YouTube for weeks thereafter.

All of this has led to a new peripheral phenomenon in recent years, the Ad You Won’t See On The Superbowl!11!!1! Companies or causes craft an ad to submit to the network to run on the Superbowl which is rejected. Usually its subject matter is self-evidently controversial enough that the NFL realizes testosterone-hyped families across America will get into literal fights over it and be unable to watch the other commercials. Sometimes the ad is perfectly innocuous in subject matter or product, but has a stray moment of unacceptable language or a gratuitous nip-slip or something.

The point is, the ad was deliberately crafted to be rejected. Then the marketing company can run off a press release, filled with High Dudgeon™, about how the ad was banned. If, as is usually the case, it is a political cause, they scream “the NFL doesn’t want you to hear this TRUTH!” And all their supporters rush out to tweet the YouTube link, and they get two million hits. If it is a product, they usually scream “the NFL censored our ad because it was so racy!” Then all the pubescent boys (here meaning males over the age of 12) rush out to watch the video for the nip-slip that ends up not being there anyway.

This is a very successful guerrilla marketing tactic. These advertisers don’t have the money, or at least don’t have it to spare, to afford an actual ad on the Superbowl. It is also an increasingly obvious tactic, and even your average low-information American is beginning to see it for what it is. (Guys will still click on that nip-slip ad link anyway. We’re predictable.)

But most people now realize that the advertiser’s ad is actually not on the Superbowl because they don’t have the money as opposed to having been “banned”, and now we see the next phase in the game. The Ad You Won’t See On The Giant Game We Can’t Name Because We Are Such a Plucky Little Group Who Can’t Compete With The Big Money Guys, So Go With Us Because We Are Artisinal And Stuff style advertisement.

Enter Newcastle Brown Ale, the PBR of the UK. An elderly working class brand now enjoying a hipster-fueled resurgence. This plucky little brand has released this “Behind the Scenes” video of their Superbowl ad that won’t be, starring Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect. The whole thing is about how Newcastle’s reach exceeded their grasp and they couldn’t afford to run their ad on the Superbowl (along with some unconvincing worry about whether she is hot enough for a beer commercial), and now she has to go back to making indie movies or something. It is funny. And trust me, listen carefully to her description of the ad. It would have gotten all the YouTube hits.

Cute, huh? And a great, creative way for a small company to leverage the Superbo… Giant Game With The Trademarked Name hype to their advantage. America really is the land of opportunity, huh?

Yeah, about that… Newcastle Brown ale is owned by, um, this impoverished outfit.
(H/T: Mary Katherine Ham at HotAir)

The Best PR Email Ever

Like most terribly influential cocktail writers, my email box fills often with missives from public relations operatives for distillers who wish to offer a few recipes in honor of some event or other. Here’s what I got yesterday while this was going on….

Galliano Presents The Carlos Danger

There are few things American love to talk about over drinks more than politics, but one of them is sex. And when we can talk about both at the same time, we really need an exciting new cocktail to commemorate those occasions.

Galliano Liqueur presents the Carlos Danger! I hope your readers will be interested in this fabulous new recipe (named for Anthony Weiner’s same old schtick) that shows off Galliano’s unique flavor in a great new way.

Carlos Danger
1 part Galliano L’Autentico
3 parts Vodka
8 parts Fresh Orange Juice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a tall glass with ice and garnish with a carved orange. Serve to your friends.

Tiffany McWilliams
McWilliams Global Brand Relations
450 Main St.
Suite 2
Grand Rapids, MI

Read More

Followup: Maker’s Mark Completes the New Coke Maneuver

Maker's Mark Supplies
It took about a week.

Maker’s Mark has now completed the legendary and incredibly difficult New Coke Maneuver.

After backlash from customers, the producer of Maker’s Mark bourbon is reversing a decision to cut the amount of alcohol in bottles of its famous whiskey.

Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark’s chief operating officer, said Sunday that it is restoring the alcohol volume of its product to its historic level of 45 percent, or 90 proof. Last week, it said it was lowering the amount to 42 percent, or 84 proof, because of a supply shortage.

“We’ve been tremendously humbled over the last week or so,” Samuels, grandson of the brand’s founder, said of customers’ reactions.
—NBC News (H/T: @TeeKeeMon)

I didn’t quite have the guts to predict this when I posted about it last week. You can see from the post title that I cut out a lot of my speculation, in part because it would have been so risky, and in part because I wanted to focus on the bind Maker’s was in economically and marketing-wise.

But I kinda think they pulled it off. Most giant corporate entities who try similar maneuvers, planned or not, (I’m looking at you Netflix and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince and Now Is Once Again Known as Prince™) fail like Hitler’s push on Stalingrad. But I’m betting Maker’s has pulled it off. And they pulled it off because of the fact that they were honest about why they made the move in the first place.

They had to do something, as I outlined before.

If they had just jacked up the price, with a few dry stories about supply constraints in business publications, customers would have just noticed the price increase and said, “Aw, sheeoot! Maker’s is so damned expensive alluva sudden. They’re a awfully proud of their product these days. I’ll be proud of my Jim Beam for less.”

If they had constrained supply, bars and restaurants would have stopped making it a staple brand. And cutomers not finding it on shelves would have said, “Hmmm. No Maker’s these days. I’ve always wanted to see what the fuss was with this Four Roses….”

If they’d just tried to quietly lower the proof with the bullcrud explanation that customers wanted less booze in their booze, as Jack Daniels (barely) got away with in an era before Twitter and FaceBook lynch mobs roamed the Earth, in this age, where Twitter and FaceBook lynch mobs roam the Earth, they would have been crucified with comments like this:

Alert drunkard Chris Sharp brought this unfathomable blasphemy to my attention and I feel it my sworn duty to bring it to yours.

“I was outraged,” says Sharp, a once avid Jack drinker. “They continue to claim in their ads that they stick to tradition. Tradition, my ass. If they think that people will take this sitting down they are sadly mistaken.”
Modern Drunkard Magazine, on the Jack Daniels watering

But Maker’s pushed their decision big. They went out of their way to tell all their biggest customers what they were doing, and more importantly, why. And they were explicit with the press about the problem as the inevitable wave hit. And customers told them, in no uncertain terms, and in a way that everyone knew what everyone else was telling them, that, “Thank you, but we’d really prefer that you keep our whiskey the same, and try one of those other options.” (Please note the peculiar consumer deceit that it is “our” bourbon.) I disagree with the old adage that any publicity is good publicity, but Maker’s didn’t hunker down and stonewall through it, but made sure every reputable story about the situation made clear the problem was real.

Now Maker’s can go back to the old formula. The customers have essentially all told them “raise the price instead,” and they know they all told Maker’s that. If they see an intermittent shortage, they will know why. Maker’s has the consumer buy-in to take the long-term path out of a supply crunch.

Maker's Mark Ultimate Collector's Item Bottle
Source: Bourbon Blog.
Follow the link for more on initial reaction to the 84 proof decision.

And now they have cases and cases of the best collector’s item bourbon out there. Bottles that will be bought, but not drunk. Most bottles sold at 84 proof will be sold right alongside a bottle of 90 proof that is meant to be drunk.

Did they mean to do this all along? Just as I’m not a Coca-Cola Classic Truther, I doubt (despite my suspicions this would end this way) they intended for this to happen. But they were smart. And they did lay the groundwork to retreat and get away with it. I think that they will.

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