How do CUB and Lion really advertise their brands?

So there has been quite bit of talk lately about how beer is sold by the ‘big guys’ in the beer scene, there is a suggestion that their constant portrayal of beer drinkers are fat slobs who fish, sit around on eskys and ignore females is hurting the overall image of beer.

This has been fuelled by two things; Canadian Club’s latest over beer ad (they must be pleased that it’s got people talking) and by Matt Kirkegaard’s articles here and here. He was even nice enough to stop by this here post to continue the conversation with me.

I have to admit I wrote that post without actually doing in research. But Matt’s responses got me thinking, what is the reality?  What have the big guys, CUB (owned by SAB Miller) and Lion (owned by Kirin) been up to of late?

CUB – I’ve had a quick look for the latest television campaigns from their biggest brands. There is a fair bit of spend here too, CUB have spent $7.2 million since the start of 2011, most of it on Carlton ($1.9 million) and VB ($1.5 million). And the short story, although there are a lot of different approaches here, there isn’t a beer drinking slob to be found anywhere, it possible CUB are more enlightened than we think?

Cascade – ‘Brewed by Feel’, okay there is a strange version of what wheat looks like, but certainly no fat guys, clearly going after the hipster Tasmanian market (is there such a thing?).

Crown – We all know this concept is a crock of shit, but it does almost have some connection with the actual brewing of beer which is nice to see even if taken literally you would assume there is only five ingredients in Crown – one of them being time which as the ad states you can’t catch or keep so how they get it in bottle is anyone’s guess.   

Carlton – Okay so there is some dodgy dancing and that arse crack shot still freaks me out, but again no boats, no sports, no eskys, and a nice friendly pub (although people do more in pubs than playing darts, watching sport and eating steaks).

Fat Yak – The ad we all love – Fat Yak’s Yaktion Promo, it’s a sport sponsorship, but with a twist.

Pure Blonde – This ad is a long long way from bogans, I mean it has a Simon and Garfunkle song in it, even if they couldn’t afford the original.  

Corona  – Although they don’t have the license anymore, they were running these international ads for Corona. Great simple concept here, shit beer but the ad almost makes me want to drink it.

VB – So we all know this is where the argument will fall apart, but even VB doesn’t actually use fat bogans in a boat anymore. This ad is complete nonsense, ice and beer the perfect combo, that’s just perpetrating the ice cold beer myth. But there is actually normal looking people and even women at this BBQ and no cricket to be seen.

Lion  – They are actually a much bigger television spender than CUB – in fact across their seven biggest brands they spent $16.4 million since the start of 2011, double and a bit CUB’s spend (gee I wonder why they are growing so much quicker?) but let’s play spot the fat bogans.

Tooheys Extra Dry – Their biggest brand, clearly aimed directly at, wait for it, deer, there is even a nice mix of male and female deer there (you know someone at the ad agency had to work that ratio out, poor kid, probably didn’t even get to share the good cocaine.)

Hahn Super Dry – They love the word dry don’t they? More nonsense, sort of like an adult version of a Cadbury ad, not sophisticated but not hugely damaging to the beer brand either.

Boags Premium – I friggen love these ads, they even suggest that water is important in making beer, although why everything is magical in Lion’s world I don’t understand. And what makes it premium? It’s in black and white.

Boags Draught – The common folk need colour and movement and a voiceover to explain it but still a great ad, although I did spot a boat in there, so we are bogan-adjacent.

XXXX Summer Bright – It’s surprisingly hard to find a copy of this ad, which I find weird given the target audience, but a great summery vibe for gen Y kids (even if the logic of sun and a clear bottled lager doesn’t really mix).

Tooheys New – I was all ready to say the Beer Economy ads were not too bad, sure they relied on the blokey concept of mateship but they were harmless enough. But then yesterday they launched this. Father in Law jokes, fat guys in saunas, boxing, and weight training. Cliched much?

XXXX – If the Tooheys News wasn’t bad enough, XXXX is where most of the problems are, this has every stereotype in it you can possibly think of, truly awful. 

So there we have it, rather than claiming that all beer ads paint us as beer swilling morons dodging salad and fishing all day with mates, we should lay the blame wholly and solely at the feet of XXXX Gold (and maybe stable mate Tooheys New).  I could suggest that XXXX Gold are targeting Queenslanders (and in fact the ad spend number shows regional Queenslanders) and that explains the 1970’s attitude to mates, chicks and beer, but that would seem a little cruel to Queenslanders. Although let’s remember this is the state that gave us Joh Bjelke Petersen, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer so they have a fair bit to answer for.

I should also mention that the restriction on what you can show in beer ads also doesn’t help with the creation of realistic beer ads. For instance did you know you are not allowed to show people being more socially successful by drinking alcohol? But that’s a post for another day.

So where does the perception come from? I guess it’s just one of those ingrained things, taught to us by years and years of ‘Hard earned thirst’ ads. Most of the big beer brands have now moved away from that positioning, but it takes a long, long time to shift perceptions like this one.

Stiegl (Lager) Bier

Prologue:  There was a guy that used to run the pub wine bar across the road from work. I found him untrustworthy I thus deemed that he was Austrian. Why do I associate being Austrian with being a little dodgy? No Idea.

It wasn’t always like that though I remember in my youth (my actual youth, when I was five or six, not my usual ‘In my youth stories’ that actually mean a couple of years ago) my mum used to talk about the baker at the local cake shop. She told be with a certain sort of awe that he was Austrian, like being Austrian instantly made you a brilliant baker.

So somewhere between iced buns nigh on thirty years ago and wine bars three years ago Austrians went from roly poly ruddy faced apron clad happy bakers to a cigar smoking, shifty eyed bar owners.

But what of their beer, Is it any good? Did I pick this beer up thinking it was German? Why haven’t I reviewed  a German beer yet? Will this beer help me get laid?

Appearance:  For some strange reason I thought this would be a dark beer, maybe it’s because it’s been living under the stairs for a couple of weeks, along with a whole bunch of beer that I got a Slowbeer (look out from some corker reviews of a range of porters coming up shortly). Of course it wasn’t a dark ale (not many lagers are) It’s actually a golden burnt yellow, with a white creamy head and excellent lacing.   

Taste:  It smelt hoppy, it tasted hoppy, there was a aftertaste which lingered, in a nice way, like a pretty girl who won’t go home after the party. The taste was full but  refreshing.  

Packaging:  Green bottle, strange label that reminds me of World War II comics, and in particular the great graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Oh and by the way Stiegl mean Steps.   

Food Suggestion:  I was drinking this at home, by myself (yeah I know that’s a little sad) half way through drinking it I had a brainwave, I was sure it would go well with some of Nana Beryl’s shortbreads. Nana Beryl is not my Nana, but rather Jordan’s 92 and a half (half years become important again after the age of 90) year old grandmother, and like all little old ladies (and Austrians apparently) she is famous for her baking. In this case shortbreads, shortbeards that go exceptionally well with beer.

Drinking Location:  Upstairs, that makes no sense unless you understand that the logo is a staircase. It’s represents brewing at a higher level. I think it might lose something in the translation.

In conclusion:  Quite a nice beer actually, it a well rounded full flavour, robust enough to cut through shortbeard, and yet light enough to still be refreshing.  

Ranking:  I’ll have a Pint

Will it get me laid?:  Well according to this ad – definitely.  Clearly the advertising restrictions for beer in Austria are a little looser than in Australia. As I understand it in the land downunder you can’t suggest that drinking beer will help you to be more socially accepted (even though it does, unless of course you are one of those annoying drunks, then everyone hates you)

Swan Special Light

A couple of weeks ago my better half spent some time in Perth, whilst there she partook in some Swan Lager because, as it was explained to her, it’s what you had to do. Now Swan is a brewery that produced some ripper ads in the 80’s, In fact we have spent quite a bit of time examining their efforts, here  and here  and this ad for  Swan Special Light (which I should note is a pointless beer)  is a corker.

Firstly the overwhelming thought is ‘Why did they go out and buy so much stock footage, or alternatively why did they bother going all the way to Sydney to  film so much stuff, only to then made it look like American stock footage?

From the Wall Street boys, the yellow taxis,  the pastel wearing men who I’m sure have walked out of a ‘cotton dockers’ commercial, and the dude with a basketball, and a huge American College style 24 of his top.

But don’t fear the Budweiser logo ain’t turning up yet. It quickly gets back on track, with a great pack shot, two beers, connected to an arm exploding from a esky full of ice. Then we really aussie it up (in a uniquely West Australian way) with some yacht racing, and (surely what is stock footage)  of Australia II, remember when people gave a shit about the America’s Cup?

But then it falls over again, all of a sudden a lumberjack appears, he has the number 84 on his chest so I assume he is 60 steps in the evolutionary chain better than the dude with 24 written on him, he has a mo, but he still looks like he is getting a trophy for ‘Best tree feller’ for 1984 for the Wisconsin Tree Chopping Association (WTCA).

Then it really looses it, we enter the realm of slapstick, a man losing control of his dog in front of a  girl in short shorts, doing that most 80’s of activities, Jogging.  The slapstick will be back later for a an equally pointless appearance later.

But back to the basics of beer advertising.  A pack shot, a man picking up the beer with the most unnatural of movements, and why of why is there only one can in the giant bucket of ice?

Anyway, time to play some Rugby, and then head to the pub, although I must admit, given the recent antics of sportsmen, I’m a little concerned for the lady surrounded by three rugby players., I don’t think she’s in for a pleasant evening.

And no I have no idea why there is a weightlifter in this ad, but fuck those computers are cutting edge aren’t they? Oh and the pink tied guy, I don’t want to smash him in the face at all, knob. 

Then there is just time to round out the ad with some stock footage of Americans enjoying beers in taverns .