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“I’m a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”• Abraham Lincoln
Beer seems to be woven into the very fabric of American culture. Amid a variety of alcoholic drinks beer remains to be the American majority’s drink of choice. According to one statistic 43% of Americans that drink chose beer. It has been recorded that, “Beer makers shipped 26.4 gallons of beer per person per American adult in 2017.”
Americas are consuming lots of beer and there is no shortage of variety or accessibility. Whole aisles in grocery stores are lined with different brands and types of beer. One can find beer not only at grocery stores but at the local corner store, restaurant, on a plane and it would be easy to be a short walk from a beer at any sporting event. With all these options, Pabst Brewing, specifically Pabst Blue Ribbon beer has a unique history with an interesting marketing campaign to appeal to the young, creative adults of America. Pabst Brewing is one of the oldest American breweries. It got its start in 1848 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The founder of the brewery was Jacob Best. Eventually, his son in law and the company’s namesake would partner with his father in law and really start making an impact to the beer market. But the start was humbling. Jacob Best’s company produced a meager 300 barrels in its first year. But It did not take long for the beer to gain traction in the beer market.
By 1872 output was around 1000,000 barrels making it the second largest brewery in the United States. Many factors may have attributed to its rise to the top but it seems that the taste was key to that ascension. In 1882 the brand had gone on to win so many awards and competitions, including the best tasting beer during the Chicago’s world’s fair of 1893, that blue ribbons were hand tied on the bottles to symbolize the pride and homage to the beer’s collections of awards. Patrons would commonly would request “The Blue Ribbon Beer”. This was a way to set this product apart from the competition. Not only was the taste distinct but now the company had created a distinct way to package the product. Making a product memorable is a component of success which is what this blue silk ribbon was able to do. Millions of feet of ribbon were used annually to ensure this symbol adorned each bottle. It was only paused during World War I when there was a shortage of silk. And in 1899 the company achieves 1 million barrels in volume and adds the red stripe to commemorate. But over the years the popularity began to slip. Pabst had to become creative and innovative with their marketing. And that is exactly what they did. Pabst Blue Ribbon is not marketed as sexy or pretentious but rather a sensible beer that an average American would share with a friend.
The man on the left is Eugene Kaspher – Chairman and CEO, middle picture is Rob Urband – Chief Legal Office and the man on the right is John Kimes – Master Brewer. These men run a very successful brewery. And yet the outward appearance, their image that they want to showcase, is very casual. There is no need for suits to portray excessive professionalism. These depictions give the impression that these are just you “average” American which only furthers their message as a beer for everyone. Pabst has really targeted young adults with their most recent ad campaign. The title of the campaign is “America Dreaming”. It is an interesting ad that has already attracted 1,317,353 million viewers. The ad oozes Americana.
One image is the flag blowing in the wind next to the logo, another is a graffiti image of Rosie the Riveter next to the Blue ribbon logo and at one part the National Anthem is song. This very patriotic message focuses on what freedom means to different members of society. it was Pabst’s intention for it to be received by the most culturally diverse generation America has seen. It highlights the views of a wide spectrum of Americans. You hear the thoughts of freedom and love from a gay Syrian refugee, suburban husband and wife, a black lesbian fighting for equality, a young white mechanic, a drag queen. It urges the viewer to recognizes that freedom is vital to our existence and to see people for people which was their way to encourage love and intolerance. Some of the comments were negative saying that the add was left wing propaganda. But as the beginning of the ad states, “43% of young people identify as multicultural, making this generation the most diverse in American history.” Pabst made the decision to try to market to a large percentage of the population. And by the reaction in some of the comments this ad may strike a nerve with a population that thinks it is “Left Wing Propaganda BS” so while they may lose sales within a certain population. It obviously struck a nerve and that is what marketing is supposed to do strike an emotion. The most recent ad campaign was not the first time it targeted a young adult audience. The company experienced much success in 2011 when they employed comedian Wil Ferrell to star in commercials that would air during the Super Bowl to a tiny sub group of viewers. While the commercials only aired in 3 markets it outperformed commercials that were broadcasted nationally (Bloomberg Business week).
According to the website, “the unprecedented campaign turns into a national curiosity generating more than 339 million media impressions and over 4 million You Tube views and counting. A company’s presence on social media is incredibly important and impressions and tweets really got a huge number of people talking.Pabst not only relies on media to market to their consumers but other ways to reach their demographic. And they are doing this in a big way through the Arts. Currently, there is a contest which a person can submit a can design. There will be 6 winners with a cash prize of $30,000. The process is simple. One can go onto the website and upload their art. Not only are people enticed with the cash but a way to showcase their skills on a can that will be seen by millions. This is the fifth year of this particular competition. It is definitely grabbing the attention of the creative, expressive community. In Fact, Pabst takes its interest in art even further. Not far from Chinatown in Los Angeles is an art gallery, 1700 Naud which is A collaboration between Monster Children and Pabst Blue Ribbon. This space houses the works of local and international artists, provides resources and a creative space for the extensive art community of Los Angeles.
Pabst not only supports the visual arts but music as well. There is a promotional Pabst Blue Ribbon with the tag: Drink Beer. Help Artists. For every promotional case of Pabst blue Ribbon sold, they will donate one minute of studio time to an emerging music artist. The support does not end with studio time. Pabst hosts concerts among large cities like Denver, Portland, Atlanta, Austin and Los Angeles to showcase music artists. Their tag is, “Join Pabst Blue Ribbon as we embark on a 5-city takeover, celebrating freedom in authenticity through emerging music and pioneering art.” Their concerts are able to reach a large audience. In fact, during the inaugural Project Pabst music festival there were over 15000 people in attendance. Pabst uses the arts to draw in the crowd and leaves them thirsting. This stance has helped the brand bounce back from a fifty-year-old popularity decline and to continue to push the brand to withstand the test of time even 170 years later.
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