2 Aug 2013

The Session #78 "Your Elevator Pitch"


The Session 78 is held by the Australian Beer Bar Band blog, and it's titled "Your Elevator Pitch for Beer". The thing goes like this:
"You walk into an elevator and hit the button for your destination level. Already in the elevator is someone holding a beer…and it’s a beer that annoys you because, in your view, it represents all that is bad with the current state of beer.
You can’t help but say something, so you confront your lift passenger with the reason why their beer choice is bad.
30 seconds is all you have to sell your pitch for better beer, before the lift reaches the destination floor. There’s no time, space or words to waste. You must capture and persuade the person’s attention as quickly as possible. When that person walks out of the elevator, you want them to be convinced that you have the right angle on how to make a better beer world."
OK, let's play along by the rules of this intellectual exercise and assume that the person with us in this proverbial lift will not freak out if someone starts ranting to them about a topic they might not have any interest to begin with.

Even with that, I see two fundamental issues that I doubt can be overcome.

The idea behind this is to get your message across quickly and succinctly in a way that will make the person want to know more about what you are offering. The problem is that the arguments most people use to support the idea of "better beer" are flawed. Let's take the most favourite of them all as an example: "small, independent and/or local breweries". On the one hand, it is unfair; just like those breweries, many pubs, restaurants and shops that sell macro lagers are also small, independent and/or local businesses that struggle to compete against bigger companies. On the other hand, it's bullshit; size, ownership structure and/or address aren't a guarantee of quality or ethical business practices. And I could go on with others, but I think I've made my point. Besides, this is not a business proposal or the idea of a project, which would need to engage the intellect and even the emotions of a person, it's beer, and beer is primarily a sensory thing. If I wanted to show this person what "better beer" is about, I would have to let the beer speak for itself. The thing is that even if I had some "better beer" at hand or I was able to convince the stranger to go with me to a place where they could drink "better beer", chances are that they will not like that beer and my whole argument will crumble.

Which brings me to the second fundamental issue.

What is “better beer”? Can anyone define it beyond the realm of the subjective? No, it's impossible; just like good and evil, “good beer” and “bad beer” are arbitrary categorisations relative to our perception of benefit and harm, or, in the case of beer, pleasure; and my pleasure might very well be someone else's disgust. So, if I asked this person why they drink such "reproachable" beer, they could answer with "Because I like it", and, since “I like it” = “(subjectively) good”, this person's choice of beer can not possibly be bad.

My conclusion, then, is that there is little point in this exercise, even on an hypothetical level. I don't give a flying upside down fuck about what people drink or not. I don't have anything to gain from changing their tastes or habits (I'm not as naive as to believe that such change by itself can make this world a better place or a person happier or healthier), it's not my responsibility. That's the job of the people who sell beer and I'm not among them, nor I'm being paid to do their marketing or PR.

So, keep on drinking the beers you like drinking, support and promote the breweries that make them. Be a beer evangelist if that rocks your boat, but don't take that as your mission, there's a fine line between evangelism and fundamentalism.

Na Zdraví!

PS: Older readers of this blog might remember that I once did something like the 30 pitch, explaining some people in very clear terms that their choice of beer wasn't right. The difference here is that A: I was at a pub, B: I was pretty shitfaced. It seems to have worked, though, as that pub did away with Staropramen some time ago.

PS2: I don't think there's anything really "bad with the current state of beer". Whatever problems there might be, are mostly on this side of the counter. But you'll have to wait until Alan and I finish our book to know more about it.


PS3: Yes, I know that in some way I “promote” beers, breweries and pubs that I like in my blog and among the people I know, and also that I want those businesses to prosper (just like with every business I think is doing things well), but it is not so much “promoting” as it is “sharing”. We all do that with stuff we like or enjoy (beer, films, books, TV shows, music, shops, etc.), but what we are actually sharing is not the stuff itself, but the pleasure and joy get from it, hoping that our friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. will also find pleasure in those things, or at the very least understand why we get it.

2 comments:

  1. I agree entirely with your PS2 and that's why I wouldn't have been much use on this topic. Of course, life is rife with problematic details but, like the fly that buzzes around my head in the back yard, I don't know that "wrong" is the right word. Life is full of irritations, and that's the way it should be.

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  2. A fine piece of philosophy, and you have delivered the best single line of this Session with "don't give a flying upside down fuck about what people drink or not."

    Fair enough and cheers to that!

    Here's my Session Roundup post : http://beerbarband.com/2013/08/20/the-session-78-roundup-you-pitched-you-scored/

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