17 Feb 2012

Craft Marketing

Like, I believe, many of my fellow bloggers I get a substantial number of press releases from (not only) brewers and other people related to the brewing industry. Most of them are summarily ignored as I find them as interesting and useful as reading the latest gossip of the football.

Occasionally, some of these electronic leaflets do catch my attention, and not in a good way. An example of this is the new San Miguel beer exclusive for the British Market, really, can there be anything sadder beer-wise than a Corona rip-off? Another example is the e-mail I got last Monday that goes like this:
"Dear sirs: We are sending you information about the new craft beer we have launched in case you see fit to include it in your webpages. If you need more information, we are at your disposal."
The attached information was actually two image bank photos from, I guess, the 1920's with the product crudely inserted with Photoshop, one of them had the slogan “Cerveza Artesanal Senador Volstead - La cerveza nacida en la Ley Seca” (Craft Beer S.V. - The beer born in the Prohibition). Nothing original, really, it's something I've seen used for countless products.

I wrote them to ask for some information, of the kind that, as a savvy consumer, I would like to get. For answer I got a .pdf that mentions the where and by whom the beer is brewed (something of no little importance, actually) and very little else. The rest is just a bunch of superficial data (Belgian style Blond Ale craft beer), with at least one mistake, that falls in clichés like "craft beer is a 100% natural product" (yeah, as natural as a pizza quattro formaggi).

I can't judge the beer, I haven't tasted it, it might even be the best "Artesanal" ever brewed in Spain. But what's important here is not so much the quality of the beer but the image its branding gave me, that of a product that, conceptually, isn't too different from some of the latest launches from the macros, something born in a marketing department/agency rather than on the desk of a Brew Master.

Whatever it might have meant or not, the reality is that "Craft Beer" is a buzzword that has been already usurped by people more interested in selling a brand, an image, an attitude, a lifestyle than a beverage. To this we should add that there seems to be not few consumers for whom "Craft Beer" means amateurish+irregular quality+premium price.

I don't know, perhaps it's about time to leave that label behind and start a new age, the age of "post-craft" beers, free of inferiority or superiority complexes, of rock star attitudes/ambitions and meaningless labels, an age of professional brewers who respect the intelligence of the consumer and are proud of making "just beer".

Na Zdraví!

PS: Why a "Blond Belgian Style Ale" brewed in Spain is named after a character from American history, is a question that I leave to you. Whatever the answer is, something isn't quite right when you are more interested in explaining the name of the beer rather than the beer itself.

 PD2: I'd like to make clear that Idea Hotel, the people behind this product, have answered to my e-mails and questions in good nature and that what's written above is by no means a criticism to their persons.

2 comments:

  1. We saw a press release yesterday from a British brewery launching a 'crafted beer', i.e. a keg bitter. Exactly as in the case you describe, there was no detail as to what 'crafted' meant in this context. So, they're trying to usurp the phrase without making the case.

    I don't think this renders the phrase meaningless or useless (you won't agree...) because, as you suggest, savvy consumers decide when it's earned, not brewery marketing departments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Call me naive, but I want brewers to make "beer" and let the beer speak for itself...

      Delete