Brewers hoist one to lowest common denominator

The days of Schultz & Dooley or Bert & Harry (seen here) are dim memories, if many people even remember at all the beer mugs and animated characters who peddled Utica Club and Piel's beer.

These days, with the latest assault courtesy of the Super Bowl commercialfest that was occasionally interrupted by football activity, we're treated to supreme idiocy in the service of those trying to peddle their brews to a public they obviously don't

It's likely you caught the new beer ads, given that viewership of the Super Bowl eclipses that of any other activity in mankind's experience: The guy who breathed fire all over his girlfriend and her cat; the clods who sneaked beer into a wine and cheese party; the foreign students whose rudimentary English skills hampered their pickup lines in a bar; a guy given the ability to fly because of the beer he chose being sucked into the engine of a jet airliner ... . (You can see all the Super Bowl ads online.

Beer advertising in the past decade or so has become something that frequently appeals to the lowest common denominator.
Interesting that in the same period sales and consumption of beer have steadily declined.

I'm not laying all that on the ad agencies' lack of intelligent creative work -- smarter marketing by wine and spirits makers, stricter DWI laws and other factors play a part in the market slippage, but continually reinforcing the idea that beer and
boorishness go hand in hand doesn't help.

Anheuser-Busch is perhaps the most schizophrenic. It continues to give us those heart-tugging vignettes about draft horses and dalmatians, none of which say anything about their Budweiser products, as a counter-balance to their commercials featuring unshaven slobs whose main purpose in life is to consumer more beer than others of their ilk.

The preservation of some semblance of class seems to be coming from craft brewers or the major brewers who are trying to squeeze deeper into that niche.

For example, the August Schell Brewery of New Ulm, MN, which has been making beer for 147 years, quietly advertised the making of its one-millionth case of beer.

That's a drop in the mug to the brewing giants of the world (Anheuser-Busch, for example, sold 122 million cases last year), but it's a pretty significant mark for a craft brewery -- and one that was achieved and celebrated without buffoons and balloons.

And, the huge Miller Brewing Co. has so far been restrained and professional in marketing its new Miller Lite Brewers Collection, a line of three craft-style light beers that is going out to test markets this month.

The lineup includes a blonde ale, an amber and a wheat. It is being tested in four markets -- Baltimore, Charlotte, San Diego and Minneapolis. The target audience is mainstream light-beer drinkers.

"We're seeking to establish a whole new category for the industry … craft-style light,'' said Miller Chief Marketing Officer Randy Ransom.

And, one hopes, a whole new attitude toward one's customers.

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