Monday, September 06, 2010

Pour Your Way to Event Marketing Success? It Works for Me.

I presume that my enjoyment of Saturday’s 250-beer list at the Brewmasters knees-up in Galveston is evident from the photo above. Now I want to look at the entire event from a marketing perspective.

First of all, what is “it?” Saith one of the early event press releases:

This Labor Day weekend Sep. 3-5, Moody Gardens will host the first annual Brewmasters International Beer Festival – an event that promises to become one of the best and largest beer festivals in the nation.

Second, marketing-wise, who benefits? In this case there’re a lot of “whos.” Clifton and Constance McDerby of Food and Vinetime Productions are the producers – they credit their own enjoyment of food and wine with leading them to do these kinds of events. They conduct them all over the area, often for fund-raising. In this instance, there’s a stated desire to build something for the future, this “world class beer festival in Texas.”

Fair enough. Having attended just part of the festival (the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting), I can now identify anywhere from half-a-dozen to thousands of beneficiaries – a substantial marketing target. Spec’s is a big sponsor; the large-scale liquor/wine/beer chain gets even more “beer props” for its active role in these events. Then there are dozens of breweries large and small, from the international monsters (Budweiser, Heineken, and so on) down through the regional, state and local beer-makers – think Saint Arnold’s and Southern Star.

For smaller brewers, distinctive branding is one element of aggressive marketing – hustling being the other. Some brewers have now-quite-recognizable personalities. One of my favorite pitches comes from California’s Lagunitas Brewing Company:

Hop Stoopid is an American Imperial (or Double) IPA. ‘Give it to Mikey... He’ll drink anything..!’ Up the bomber went in toast, then to his lips, and what happened next could not have been foreseen. Hop Stoopid, a slick re-animator green fluid oozed from the bottle. When it crossed his teeth and came in contact with the bitterness flavor receptors on his tongue, his eyes rolled back in his head, he did a sort of death rattle, a cloud crossed the Sun, and all his hair fell out…Cheers!

Galveston benefits big-time during the final stage of its Hurricane Ike recovery, bless ‘em. The Festival has brought people to the island who might not have come otherwise, like the three young men from Atlanta who looked for a weekend getaway, spotted the Festival online, and flew over to Texas for the long schedule of events. (Enjoy, you guys!)

Finally but never lastly is the people. Beer is intensely democratic. Everyone says so and who am I to differ? Remember, we’re talking about 250-300 different beers here; there were pours for every taste. That means some bottle or can was being served during BrewHaHa that pleased every one of the attendees.

We the people are the ultimate marketing targets. On my way back from the event, I stopped at a Spec’s store and purchased “bombers” (large 22-ounce bottles) of Great Divide Espresso Yeti (a stout) and Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale, so it’s obvious the Festival worked its marketing magic on me.

Ronnie Crocker, who writes the Beer, TX, blog, said:

It was a very, very well executed event and I would imagine a revelation to a lot of folks about what beer can be like.

I believe there are three kinds of beer in the world. One kind, the least numerous, are the beers I’ve sampled. Two, the beers I’ve yet to try. And three, the beers I’d like to try and market. Given all the stakeholders it reached, the first-ever Brewmasters International Beer Festival is a great example of event marketing. I’m taking notes.

PS: Boulevard Brewing Company is in Kansas City, MO.

1 comment:

Brian Bearden said...


What made this event a success was not only the fact that you stopped at Specs (the major sponsor for the event) and pick up 2 bottles of beer that stood out from the many that you tasted but you also visited the breweries websites and the event planners website.

By having this event you were able to taste a few of a particular brewery's beers. Say you liked one of their beers, visited their website and were introduced to many other beers they produce that you might also want to try in the future. Heck, you might love that beer so much that you want a shirt that says I'm with Hop Stupid.

Beer is also very seasonal, so we are coming out of the summer which has your lighter beers into the Octoberfest and Darker Beers for the winter. More opportunities for the brewers to introduce you to their selection all year long.

I did the same thing upon returning from the event and visited the event planners and a few breweries website. I even found out that not only does Food And Vinetime Productions put on the Beer Festival but they also have wine events and their next event in Katy, TX later this month.

I even went as far as to click Like on Facebook for the breweries that I liked from the show. Now they can connect with me through social networks on what is happening at their brewery.

Who knew that a 1oz tasting would go so far... I bet many of them do now.