Considering the massiveness of the beer market in the United States, it’s no surprise that the competition between breweries is as creative as it is fierce. As companies large and small try to set their products apart, some pretty absurd marketing ploys have been unleashed on the American public. From Coors’ vented wide mouth can (basically a bigger hole) to a Facebook app that makes you look generous, these seven stunts are the strangest of the strange- but that doesn’t mean they flopped.
Tellingly, Miller Lite is a bit light on specifics when it comes to what, exactly, the curved grooves it added to the necks of its bottles do: “With specially designed grooves inside the neck, the Vortex Bottle lets the great pilsner taste flow right out. Ultimately, the answer is: not much at all. But like any good marketing ploy, they make the product seem more interesting and higher-brow.
Unlike the other breweries on this list, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is well respected among beer connoisseurs. In October, the Delaware-based company collaborated with Google to produce limited run beer. They also released Faithfull Ale- a beer specially made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band Pearl Jam’s debut album, “Ten.” So what was the connection between the record and the golden ale? “10 incremental additions of black currants over a one-hour boil.”
Setting the issue of taste aside, Bud Light has three things going for it: It’s inexpensive, it’s ubiquitous and it’s low in calories. So logically, Bud Light Platinum has none of those qualities. The newly introduced beer comes in a silvery-blue aluminum bottle. It has 137 calories, compared to Bud Light’s 110, and an alcohol percentage of 6.0%, to its predecessor’s 4.2%. The slogan, ”Triple filtered, smooth finish, top shelf taste,” is meant to appeal to the more knowledgeable (snobby?) beer drinker, who’ll probably just ignore it in lieu of a good microbrew.
While Bud Light and Miller Lite try to go high-brow, Old Milwaukee embraced its bottom shelf personality with a series of low-budget ads featuring Will Ferrell. The commercials, whose comic worth is debatable, were aired only in Davenport, Iowa- but quickly spread via YouTube.
When it comes to beer marketing gimmicks, Coors is king. They’ve built most of their sales pitch on the temperature of the beer, but didn’t stop there. In 2008, the Rocky Mountain brewery introduced the Wide Vented Mouth Can- a fancy way of describing an 8% bigger hole with a special indentation to let more beer out more quickly. The thinly disguised pitch to college kids looking to chug beers as fast as possible has been taking drinking games to the next level ever since.
Continuing with Coors, “Code Blue” is a stroke of marketing genius. How they managed to build a brand based on the work your refrigerator does is something of a mystery, but the jury is in on this one. The “World’s Most Refreshing Beer” has cans, bottles and pint glasses that turn blue when cold enough. Now they’ve moved on to “Two Stage Activation,” so you know when your beer goes from cold to “Rocky Mountain cold.”
Heineken came into last holiday season with a simple assumption: you love their product so much you obviously want your own Heineken BeerTender, so you always have the Dutch brew on tap. But how to buy one for yourself without seeming selfish? To help out, Heineken released the “Beer Friender” Facebook app. The premise: pair up two guys who each want a BeerTender, and have them each buy one for the other. After all, to give is better than to receive- but it’s even better if you do both.
What’s your favorite beer-selling gimmick? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.