Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beer? Who'd Buy That?

For oblivious, uncritical, PR-driven drivel, nothing beats the daily advertising column in the New York Times.  Monday's article was no exception.  It begins with this headline:
Is Star Power Enough to Sell Beer in Hard Times? Two Brewers Hope So
Aren't hard times and beer made for each other?  What does star power have to do with it?   The article tries to put that bizarre question into some context and fails:
Beer has long been thought to be less affected by downturns than other consumer purchases, but the severity of current conditions has called into question the most cherished of marketing assumptions.
Is the author speaking generally here, or is there some recent beer sales figures he's relying on?  No context.  If you keep reading, it becomes somewhat clearer that we aren't really talking about beer in general but so-called premium beers:
“Now more than ever, you need to give consumers a reason why you’re worth paying more for,” said Christian McMahan, chief marketing officer at Heineken USA in White Plains, a division of the Dutch brewer Heineken.
Now we're getting somewhere!  This is about differentiating your brand with real value.  So what do they have planned for their Superbowl competition.  
For the flagship Heineken brand, Heineken USA is introducing a tongue-in-cheek campaign that presents the actor John Turturro as a guru whose words of wisdom are composed of more head than beer.

Some sayings offered by Mr. Turturro’s character seem sagacious (“Every man is the leader of his own expedition”). Others sound like double-talk (“But he who wanders with purpose has no purpose to wander”).
Did I miss something here?  Did Heineken?  Is this really going to give me a reason to pay more for a beer?   Hold it -- further down the article, we get more details:
The Heineken campaign carries the theme “Give yourself a good name,” which replaces the theme of previous ads, “It’s all about the beer.”

The new theme “has two layers to it,” said Mark Fitzloff, executive creative director at the Portland office of Wieden & Kennedy. “One is about a name on the bottle; you literally give yourself the Heineken name when you order one.”
Yeah, obviously.  Tell us about the second layer:
“On a second level, it’s about reputation, how you act in social situations,” he added. “Where beer is around, people are not always carrying themselves with dignity.”
Whoa-- now he's implying embarrassing drunken behavior and telling us we don't have "a good name?"  And this is supposed to be convincing me to choose Heineken over some cheaper domestic brand?  

There's got to me more to this spot than we're getting from this article.  There must be.  Never mind waiting for SuperBowl Sunday.  Let's watch the whole commercial now:



Wow.   Jon Turturro did a great job playing a clueless, pretentious guy with creepy drunken intensity -- but why Heineken would want him to represent their beer drinker is beyond me. 

And I'm still waiting to hear why they're worth a few extra bucks.

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1 Comments:

At April 10, 2009 at 9:50 AM , Blogger MDee said...

I think the concept of this campaign is great. You say "I'm still waiting to hear why they're worth a few extra bucks". In fact that's whole point of the campaign: by drinking a more expensive beer you "Give Yourself a Good Name" by showing that you're doing well and can afford Heineken. This is a core principle in marketing, everyone creates their own personal brand through choices like what brands they buy. Buying a higher end beer shows people that you yourself are high end. Now, I don't love this execution, but I do love the concept.

 

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