It would seem that choosing to move my blog from Posterous to a WordPress.org one was a good decision. I’ve already had two PR e-mails, and at least 10 spam comments, which at the moment are entertaining me with things like “i didn’t even see something like this before because of the scarcity of this type of information”.
The first PR e-mail was for a group of students in America (I think, I can’t remember exactly, and I think I deleted the e-mail), who had developed some beer opener sunglasses, and had a kickstarter project going to try and raise money to manufacture them. Whilst they seemed like a nice novelty idea, they clearly would have had little use in the UK, where we get 14 days of sunny weather each year.
The second PR e-mail came from a company called Ethel’s Brew. If you’re feeling brave, the website can be found at http://www.ethelsbrew.com/.
Since recieving the e-mail I’ve been intrigued. I’ve tried to do a search for more information, but aside from sites pretty much reporting the PR, I’ve found little else. I have a hunch (and the people behind the beer are more than welcome to prove me right or wrong) that Ethel is not real, and is in fact a character played by an actress, to sell a brand. I also have a feeling that Ethel’s Beer is made by a big company, who feel that if they openly associated themselves as being the makers of the brand, it would damage it’s potential sales, or ruin it’s reputation before it had even gone to market.
I don’t want to pre-judge a beer before I’ve tried it, but everything about the way the company have chosen to market their range of beers says “avoid” to me. I may very well have ruined the likelihood of recieving more unsolicited PR e-mails after this post, or I may end up getting a load more. Either way, I’m unlikely to write anything about any of them, unless I feel I can say something about it, rather than just say “These guys are doing something”.
I’m going to open a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout now. I’ve never had it before. Here’s to the rest of the night.
Additional thoughts – 28th June 2012.
So, it turns out that I was right in my suspicions that Ethel wasn’t real. What I hadn’t expected though, was that this wasn’t the work of a larger brewery trying to get in on the craft beer craze, but an advertising agency trying to promote themselves. (Story at http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ddb-behind-ethels-brew-141498)
The question is, what is the ultimate result of a stunt like this. Boak and Bailey have already voiced their annoyance, and the fact that stunts like this make it harder to trust PR agencies on their twitter feed.
On the subject of the campaign itself, I think that DDB have misjudged the way the beer world is moving. Whilst there maybe the few who shout and annoy some people, most of the successful new breweries of the last few years have made their name through having a good product, which has gained popularity through word of mouth and reputation. It also helps that through social media, and blogs, news about good new breweries travels faster than it used to.
Would The Kernel be popular outside of London, or Magic Rock and Summer Wine Brewery popular outside of the North East if it weren’t for the Internet? I know there are many breweries that I’ve not heard of from parts of the country I’ve never been to. Some of these I’m probably better off not being aware of, whilst a few may very well be hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Whilst there is seemingly still an audience for beers with questionable pump clips, and euphemistic/innuendo laden names, those beers will exist. Some of them may be good (though based on personal experience, that’s probably unlikely). I fully expect though, that these sorts of beers will eventually “die out”. How that will happen, or when it will I’m not sure, yet it seems inevitable, that over time, tastes and trends will change.
One thing I am sure of though, is that advertising agencies will reguarly misjudge things. This is one example. The campaign didn’t make me want to drink their beer. It made me want to know who was really behind it. Now we know, and that is where we shall leave it.