The 5 Best Beer Marketing Gimmicks

As the Craft Beer Industry continues to carve out a niche in today’s beer-lover landscape, the big beers push, pull and drag to use their heavy advertising dollars to stand out.  Is this good taste?  What I mean is – the focus on many of the more recent advertising tools have been geared towards gimmicky ad ploys with very little attention to taste, quality and product.  In a $196 billion industry that encompasses 85% of America’s alcohol market, it can be exceptionally difficult for beer brands to stand out. It appears innovation, technology of color-coded-temperature-sensitive cans have pushed aside the true root of great taste and quality inside the can.  Either way, some concepts (and commercials) have been entertaining and it’s fun to watch the top breweries battle for best-of-show ideas using scientists and engineers – not to improve their product but instead how to make it stand out in a crowded beer cooler.  Enjoy.

Below are five of the craftiest marketing ploys in the big beer industry today and how their looks, functions and overall appeal affect prospective buyers.

“My Bud Light” labels

5 of the Craftiest Marketing Ploys in the Big Beer Industry image budlightlabel1
Photo from Daily Finance

Looks: For a while Bud Light’s labels sported a special feature. The small white space below their logo resembled a dog-eared notepad and encouraged the drinker to “make your mark” by doodling with a key or coin.

A fancy splash graphic played up the side of the label, complementing the curvy aesthetic of the brand name’s border and making us wonder how the little notepad looked so dry. And when inscriptions were made, the paths left behind a metallic outline reminiscent of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Function: The obvious function behind the label is to scrawl your name onto your beer and avoid confusion with other partygoers. The makers also recommend leaving your phone number on the bottle for that good-looking someone across the bar. One commercial for the special beers even shows two guys leaving behind Buds with a suggestive “party” and their address on the side, of course followed by a successful gathering of every attractive woman in their apartment building.

Overall appeal: The “My Bud Light” labels definitely had something going for them. In a world where people use hair ties and defaced labels to keep track of their beer in the crowd, it’s smart to fashion a feature that lets them write their names on it.

But this gimmick is now a thing of the past, as it must not have drawn the response that Budweiser had hoped for in a limited run several years ago. Or perhaps the “limited time only” was meant to be a part of the appeal in itself.

Coors’ cold-activated can

5 of the Craftiest Marketing Ploys in the Big Beer Industry image coors1
Photo from buba69

Looks: These Coors cans use color to their advantage. What better hue to associate with your brand’s ice cold beer than blue? It’s a common theme in the beer industry (see Bud Light, Labatt Blue, Pabst Blue Ribbon), the color being synonymous with the super chilled temperatures we Americans love our beer served at.

Function: The purpose is evidently to show the consumer that “this beer is cold”. The cans utilize a simple chemical reaction by printing the mountains with thermochromic ink. When the liquid inside gets below a certain temperature, the exterior dye changes from transparent to blue.

And they’re reminiscent of the temperature-activated, color changing charms of days past: 70s mood rings, and those wondrous plastic spoons from the cereal boxes. It’s a nostalgic touch that brings us back to that naïve amazement of our childhood and subconsciously works in the Coors brand’s favor.

Overall appeal: But, then again…what do we have hands for? Must we forsake our sense of touch and wait for the beer to tell us when its contents are ready to sip?

Coors has even gone as far as punching out a little “window” to exhibit the effect of their cold-activation to passersby. It all seems pretty silly to me, but this novelty seems to turn casual beer drinkers on to the beverage.

Miller Lite’s punch tab

5 of the Craftiest Marketing Ploys in the Big Beer Industry image punchtab1
Photos from shane o mac and Dirty Beer Hole

Looks: There’s not much to look at here. The punch tab is merely an opportunity for an extra hole in the top of your average Miller Lite can. They’ve added a little instructional graphic on the side to give you the right idea, in case you missed the plethora of advertising on the box you pulled it from.

Function: This product’s design is mundane but touts the special advantage of a smoother pour. The commercial invites drinkers to punch the top out with the tool of their choice, including but not limited to drumsticks, wrenches, baseball trophies and carabiners.

What could always be done with a can opener or set of keys is now made just a little bit easier by the fine folks at Miller. This must be an attempt at inspiring more tasteful shot-gunning practices for the next generation of reckless college kids… right?

Overall appeal: To be fair, I can see why this little feature works for Miller. Anyone who’s bored a makeshift can hole (for whatever purpose) knows it’s an extra bit of fun with a visceral charm of its own. So if you can give people that added amusement by etching another punch-able spot into your can and potentially boost your sales from the tactic, why not?

Miller Lite’s vortex bottle

5 of the Craftiest Marketing Ploys in the Big Beer Industry image millervortex1
Photo from Dawn Huczek

Looks: In case you couldn’t tell, Miller is big on the beer gimmicks. Here’s their vortex bottle – a subtle design integration that can be seen through the neck of the bottle in just the right light. Since it may not be immediately noticeable, they give you a reminder on the bright blue strip that reads “vortex bottle” and “specially designed grooves” close to the pouring end.

As long as the drinker isn’t sitting in a dimly-lit bar, this minor redesign may be noticeable and just enough to pique a curious patron’s interest.

Function: Miller claims that their reworked bottle “create[s] a vortex as you’re pouring the beer” and is meant to “create buzz and excitement and give consumers another reason to choose Miller”. But very little from the giant’s mouth on how the tool actually works.

And that’s because it doesn’t do much. We’d expect such a well-touted device to give us an added benefit, such as a quicker pour or better head retention. But recorded user tests and a great deal of written banter tell us that the vortex is pretty worthless when it comes to actual function.

Overall appeal: At first glance (assuming you’re in a bright room) this is a pretty alluring product design. The spiraled pattern on the inside of the beer is interesting and leaves many people curious. But it may also leave them disappointed, as after brief inspection you can tell how silly the vortex design really is.

Big beer’s faux craft beer

5 of the Craftiest Marketing Ploys in the Big Beer Industry image fauxcraftbeers1

Looks: I’ve saved the best (or most deceptive) marketing ploy for last. The big beer companies have all begun producing “craft beers” of their own under the guise of entirely different brands, and I’m clumping them together to save a mouthful.

I must say, they get an A+ for looks. These seemingly craft brews sport deliberately artisanal label designs, playing off the artsy, earthy and offbeat feel of many real craft brands.

Function: The purpose of these brands is, of course, for big beer to get their foot in the door to the now booming craft beer market. Since average consumers and longtime drinkers of domestic light beers are now flocking to the craft section of their local stores in droves, the multinational brewers don’t want to miss out on this increasingly lucrative business.

Overall appeal: The appeal with these beers is huge. For one, they taste much richer and have significantly more body than a watered-down light beer, offering an exciting new experience to people who are used to drinking crap. They’re often slightly cheaper than the real craft beers on the shelf (due to the manufacturing and shipping advantages these big brewers possess), and the bottles themselves are attractive.

But as more people are paying attention to and caring about where their beer comes from, they’re discovering that these brands aren’t quite the real deal. An important aspect of the craft brewing community is, in fact, community. Microbreweries and small owners alike stress the importance of identity, quality and mutual benefit, and many of their consumers take this to heart.

Any other crafty marketing ploys worth mentioning? Share them with us in the comments below.

Your best bar pickup-line may be gone for good

We all recognize the impact of social media on our lives. It has certainly changed the way we find, meet and talk about our favorite corner street bar.  Well, Budweiser is looking to take it a step further with the Buddy Cup.  Local bars are filling up mugs as bar stools line up fans for the NBA and NHL playoffs, I thought I’d share some bar mingling technology.  You have to watch this video from Budweiser.  Regardless of how techy or strange it might seem, do you think this is the future of our beloved watering hole hot spots? Does anyone even know their “sign” anymore? Lost is the long list of bad pickup-lines, juke boxes and phone numbers scribbled on bar napkins.

Share your thoughts – is the buddy cup too robotic and impersonal or is it the future of social mingling and the next best ice-breaker?

Budweiser Brazil is testing new concept called “The Buddy Cup,” a beer glass integrated with Facebook. Thanks to a microchip embedded in the bottom of the glass, two people can instantly become Facebook friends when cups touch.

To get started, drinkers have to connect their cup to their Facebook profiles by snapping a picture of the chip via a smartphone app. Check out the YouTube video above to see how it works.

Although the company hasn’t released many details about the Buddy Cup yet, it is intended to be used during the brand’s sponsored events such as concerts and festivals. No word yet on if we could see this pop up in the U.S. anytime soon.

This would certainly make it easy to meet people and exchange information while out with friends — and perhaps, it’s a more natural way to use technology in social settings than other connecting-concepts such as the QR-code Skanz bracelet or even the Bump app.

10 Must-Have Social Marketing Tools

Are you looking for ways to enhance your social media marketing and expand your craft brew awareness? These programs and products will help you connect, engage and build your social footprint.  Empower your most loyal customers (those that visit your events, stop into your tasting rooms) and encourage them to be social advocates – and share the love of your beer with their friends and family.  Social Media continues its growth as one of the most influential marketing channels for the craft brew industry – especially on a localized landscape.

We asked a group of social media pros for the hottest social media tools they use today.

Check them out to see if these social media tools are a good fit for you!

#1: Unlock to Share Plugin

My favorite social marketing tool of all time is the unlock to share plugin. What is it? It’s a simple plugin that “unlocks” additional content when your web visitors share your stuff on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

viral lock code canyonMake your site go viral by requiring the user to share your link to unlock content.

 

Why is this so valuable? Well, today everyone has a Like button on their site. But if you want your audience to share your stuff, you need to give them a little incentive! That’s exactly what this plugin does.

In my most recent experiment, I had 452 people land on a page where they had access to royalty-free music they could use in their videos. If you shared the post, I gave you an additional five music tracks. Out of those 452 visitors, 379 shared to unlock those five extra songs!  That’s 84%!

These unlock to share plugins are everywhere. The one I used was found over on CodeCanyon.

James Wedmore, co-founder of Video Traffic Academy and founder of Video Sales Magic and Video Copy Pro.

#2: SlideShare

This isn’t a “new” tool, but I’m amazed by the number of marketers who still don’t use SlideShare as a main staple in their social media distribution.  According to the latest research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, just 23% of B2B marketers and only 7% of B2C marketers leverage SlideShare (which now sees approximately 60 million users per month).

SlideShare is a great tool to use as part of your company’s storytelling process.

We continue to integrate SlideShare into our visual storytelling, and it’s now a key part of our lead generation process.  It’s a true sleeping giant.

Joe Pulizzifounder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Managing Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers. 

#3: Commun.it

I use Commun.it to help build and nurture relationships with supporters, influencers and potential customers on Twitter.

The basic service, which is free, keeps track of your most valuable followers and interactions, rolling up the data into an action-driven dashboard. One glance and you’ll know whom to follow, whom to thank and to whom you need to respond—all of which you can do directly within the tool.

Another big plus: You can quickly spot your most active conversation buddies. Commun.it tallies up the number of exchanges between you and other Tweeters, indicating whether or not you’re following each other.

communitCommun.it rolls up your data into an action-driven dashboard.

In addition to the dashboard, Commun.it has reporting functionality. I love the way it lists hard-to-find stats in one handy place, including new followers, the handles of who stopped following you, RTs of your content, direct messages and total reach.

Commun.it also records this social activity for your Twitter handle, so you can keep tabs on your own contributions and connections in the Twitterverse.

Shelly Lucas, senior marketing manager and leader of social media at Dun & Bradstreet.

#4: YouTube’s Audience Retention Report

You’ve probably read that YouTube search is now optimized for time watched. Effective YouTube marketing demands that we understand (and create better videos based on) how our videos are watched, at least as much as we “optimize” them for SEO, etc.  Those “gurus” who tell you to buy thousands of 5-second views to bump up your view count … yes, that does the search damage you always knew it would.

This is why audience retention is the new view count.

The new Audience Retention Report in YouTube is, without a doubt, the most important social media marketing tool to come around in a long time.  You can now see what kind of retention you’re getting from your videos and how it compares to everyone else’s.  Want to get to the top of the results?  Study this Audience Retention Report like a hawk and update your video making strategies accordingly.

The following video walks you through a couple of reports and offers some insights on how to respond.

 

Paul Colligan, education czar for Traffic Geyser Inc. and CEO of Colligan.com. 

#5: Cyfe

While there are a number of enterprise-level listening and monitoring tools available to assist brands, a new tool that I’ve been a fan of is Cyfe. It provides visibility into social channel and search metrics that typically only admins of those channels/tools have access to.

all in one business dashboard cyfeCyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that helps you monitor and analyze data scattered across all of your online services.

For example, we’re able to set up a visual real-time dashboard for GoToMeeting, which provides brand-specific Facebook Insights data, YouTube Analytics, Twitter and Twitter Search information, SEOMoz, Google Trends, Google Analytics and a number of other social or search data points.

As a social media team, we’re often asked for such information from team members who are curious about the community, channel interactions and other related questions. Cyfe has enabled to us to make that data easily accessible to our team members.

Going one step beyond social and search, Cyfe also enables you to bring in your CRM, email marketing and blog data, with new integrations shipping on a regular basis.

Justin Levystrategic advisor on all social media activities at Citrix Online and editor-in-chief of Workshifting.com.

#6: Cloze

The newest tool that I’m most excited about is Cloze, recommended to me by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff of Mindjet.

Imagine an aggregation and curation system for your social network and that’s what Cloze provides. I’m able to view the activity of people by date in my network and then check them off, respond to them, like them or retweet them directly from the Cloze interface.

clozeCloze helps you increase your interaction with those most important to you.

It’s absolutely genius and is already saving me tons of time, increasing my interaction with those most important to me and reducing the clutter and wasted time of having five channels open that I’m constantly trying to stay abreast of. This is the inbox of the future! Cloze is currently in beta.

Douglas Karr, founder and chief blogger at the Marketing Technology Blog, founder of DK New Media (an inbound marketing agency) and author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies.

#7: AgoraPulse

There is no shortage of social media marketing tools these days, that’s for sure. But despite the overwhelming number of tools out there, it’s still very difficult to find the ones that will really deliver while remaining accessible for a small-business budget.

When it comes to managing our Facebook Page, I’ve been very impressed with AgoraPulse. It focuses on Facebook (at least for now), but provides everything your Facebook Page will ever need.

In addition to contest and promotion applications that are a “must-have” for every Facebook Page, AgoraPulse offers unique features that really make a difference, such as:

  • Detailed benchmark with competitors
    agorapulseAgoraPulse shows you a detailed benchmark with your competitors.
  • Fan ranking and qualification
    agorapulseThe fan management feature shows you fan ranking and qualification.
  • Advanced statistics and personalized content recommendations
    agorapulseYou can also track average users reached by day of week.

They also offer a ton of other great features such as advanced statistics, automated moderation and even admin rights and workflow management. These are the kind of features that used to be only available in expensive enterprise-level solutions. Getting access to such advanced and useful features for a price that every small businesses can afford does make a big difference.

Aaron Kahlow, CEO of Online Marketing Connect and chairman and founder of the Online Marketing Summit and its related educational arm, the Online Marketing Institute.

#8: GaggleAMP

One application that I’ve recently been exposed to and am excited about is GaggleAMP. I talk to many marketers who say, “If only our sales and business development team would share our social media postings, it would help us reach a greater—and more relevant—audience in social media.”

This is especially relevant in B2B companies where you traditionally have a large sales force compared to a small number of people in marketing. That sales force represents a potential army of internal brand advocates who can help make a company’s social media marketing efforts much more effective.

googleampLeverage employees, partners, customers and fans to share your company’s social media messages on your behalf.

With the emergence of GaggleAMP, social media and marketing directors can now utilize the reach of their internal staff to help spread their message in social media, and internal employees have complete control in deciding exactly which messages they would like to share on which platforms and how frequently.

Companies simply sign up to GaggleAMP, create a “Gaggle” (a group revolving around their content), and then request that interested employees join the Gaggle. Employees then authorize their social networks and decide which content they would like to share with their network.

GaggleAMP can send notifications when new content is available to be posted, and there is even a “point” system to gamify social sharing and reward those internal employees who are good sharers.

googleamp memberGaggleAMP tracks activity, allowing you to report on the impact and ROI for every message and campaign.

B2B companies are sitting on a goldmine of brand advocates who work at their company. By using GaggleAMP, they can organize and leverage their internal tribe while ensuring control over social media messages that are sent out externally.

For employees, it’s internal content curation served up on a platter to give them more timely and relevant content to share with their networks and maintain mindshare on whichever social networks the company’s customers or clients are on.

I expect to hear about more companies adopting GaggleAMP in the months to come!

Neal Schaffer, founder of Windmills Marketing, is a leading social media strategist and teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University.

#9: SproutSocial

I’ve been enjoying the statistics and tools available on SproutSocial, and am using it to get good Twitter and Facebook overviews of my accounts and for some of my clients’ statistics.

You can also do some Twitter account comparisons, schedule content, bring in your Google Reader to watch for content and share accounts with others.

sproutsocialDeliver beautiful detailed reports to your organization or customers.

If you manage many accounts, you can easily create nice-looking reports that give a good overview of activity and growth and SproutSocial is reasonably priced.

Andrea Vahl, social media coach, speaker and strategist and Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner.

#10: Reachli

Reachli (formerly known as Pinerly) is the hottest new Pinterest analytics tool. Similar to Facebook and Twitter apps such as Buffer and HootSuite, Reachli allows users to pre-schedule pins and view feedback data such as click-through rates and number of repins. Creating social campaigns on Reachli is easy with its clean and simplified design.

Although the site is optimal for Pinterest analytics, it also allows users to post on any social platform and benefit from similar analyses. Boasting comprehensive capabilities, Reachli is an ideal page-management tool for any brand or community manager.

pinerly analyticsReachli helps you understand what works and what doesn’t to help you optimize your posts.

Social media analytics are essential in providing users with optimal content, as well as discovering hard data to support social initiatives. Offering real-time analytics and best practices data, Reachli helps you optimize your Pinterest content based on the analysis of click-through rates and repin feedback. This beneficial information can result in more effective scheduling and more engaging content.

For a low cost, brands can also employ Reachli advertising, a service that uses a unique algorithm to match content with its most relevant online audience across the social sphere. As Pinterest grows in popularity, brands will find the capabilities of Reachli to be extremely beneficial in most effectively leveraging the social platform.

Dave Kerpen, cofounder and CEO of Likeable, author of Likeable Social Media and the forthcoming Likeable Business.

Contributing writer, Cindy King with Social Media Examiner