Over the last couple of days I’ve noticed a couple of beer ads popping up around town, firstly at my local train station in the traditional poster format, then at a bus stop in Sydney’s CBD (below). This one in particular is unique – they’re real beer bottles placed in that bus stop container, and some poor bastard has had to spend a long time first installing the shelving, then making sure the bottles are placed equal distances apart, with the labels all facing the same way. Not a job I would be signing up for.
But it’s not this construction I wish to talk about, though I admit it is neat to look at. It’s the messaging, and the source of the advertising itself, which has got me thinking.
The producer of these ads is Lion Nathan, a behemoth of the brewing industry in Australia. They’ve recently announced they’ll be placing nutritional information on their packaging, to keep the public more informed about their choices. It’s a noble decision, though not one which made me bat an eye-lid when I first heard the news. However, on the back of these ads and their decision to put nutritional information on their packaging, two things jump out at me.
Firstly, if I’m a top dog in a large brewing business, summer is my money spinner. The weather is hot, and people are more inclined to go out or head to a BBQ for a couple of beers. I want to use this real estate to tell people how f***ing good an ice cold beer is at the end of a hot day, and get them to pick up a slab on the way home. But instead, I think the current advertising, while well intentioned, is poorly timed and misses this opportunity.
My second point is as the saying goes – “imitation is the greatest source of flattery”. Craft beer producers frequently list the contents of their beers. Not to the extent of nutritional information, but often the types of malts, hops and yeasts which are used to produce the beer, in order to keep the consumer informed. This has helped craft breweries to become trusted in the quality of their product, which has helped to develop a loyal group of followers. Lion have in a similar way replicated this, trying to become more transparent with the content of the product in order to woo new customers. But I can’t help but think Lion have looked at what the craft breweries have done and the trust they’ve built and thought “yeah, we’ll have a piece of that”.
For me, Lion have missed a trick here, and tipped their cap to craft beer in the process.