“ ‘Cause you gotta blame someone for your own confusion…”

by Katie Pizzuto on March 30, 2011

in beer,marketing

There is nothing—and I mean nothing—like negative publicity to create a stampede-like demand for a new product nowadays, and what’s always fun to watch is the idiot posse that kicks up the dust to begin with, trying so desperately (and so unsuccessfully) to prevent the product from getting to market at all.

The following conversation is one that easily could have taken place last year, high above Fifth Avenue, just one block from several other buildings and their glut of “creative types” whose high-priced retainers keep them off this country’s unemployment lines:

“Veuve Clicquot has been kicking our client’s ass in the Champagne market here in the US for the last ten years. Between that French Women Don’t Get Fat book coming out, and what we might as well call product placement in the stained glass windows at the Notre Dame in Reims, we can’t even touch their market share, and that needs to change quickly, or you can bet your mortgage that Seagram is going to be shopping for a new agency for Mumm when our contract’s up. What I need from you people today are ideas. Ideas that will give the widow a run for her money. Ideas that will generate a buzz worthy of news coverage. Ideas that will justify an overblown price tag.”

“Maybe we can play off that whole ‘tie a yellow ribbon’ thing, and start tying red ribbons around all the trees in New York City. You know…Cordon Rouge?”

What trees in New York City?”

“Oh, right.”

“Can we get Fridays to run a co-op with us? Just in a few test markets? Or maybe Walmart?”

“No, people, it’s gotta be about lifestyle…about luxury…about bling. Champagne has to make them feel like they’re splurging on something reserved for the wealthy.”

“What about hiring Lil Wayne as a spokesperson? You know how rappers are always drinking Champagne. Why not sponsor his tour?”

“He’s in jail, idiot.”

“Your point? Imagine the ad: He’s sitting in his cell. To his right and left are other prisoners, drinking water out of a tin cup. But there in the center is Lil Wayne, sipping on chilled Mumm, and the headline reads, ‘They Took My Gat, But I Kept My Magnum.’”

The room goes silent. Bob stands. “That’s not half bad. If we can get him to tattoo Mumm’s red ribbon across his…well, whatever skin real estate he’s got left at this point…we could have something.”

I wrote that over a year ago as an introduction to a piece I did about the Champagne industry, and obviously there are no new ideas because Pabst Brewing is going to be releasing Blast by Colt 45 in a couple of weeks and its spokesperson is none other than Snoop Dogg.  But what’s gotten this country’s paranoid lunatic fringe up in arms (calling for its ban before it even hits a shelf) is that the fruit-flavored drink, despite its 12% alcohol content, is “specifically targeted to younger people” with its grape, raspberry watermelon, strawberry lemonade and blueberry pomegranate flavors. The fringe is crying that it’s a hazard because it can be confused with soft drinks, and NYC Councilman Robert Jackson just called for Blast to be banned in New York. Jackson’s equally brain-dead aide added, “In the short term, a drink like this masks and shrouds the effects of alcohol. That’s dangerous for our young people.”

The black holes in these arguments are so many I hardly know where to begin, so I’ll focus on the most face-smacking obvious. The product is being sold in either a liquor store or other location that sells alcohol, alongside other alcoholic beverages. That means someone is supposed to be checking IDs at the register, whether they have a bottle of Blast or a bottle of Lafite in hand (the Blast actually having the lower ABV hilariously enough). I can’t imagine how this will be confused with soda if it’s nowhere near soda. Another problem they mention is the “targeting young people” argument, one that would most likely not exist if this puritanical country raised its children to be responsible drinkers…children that learned to enjoy the taste of a little wine complementing their meal, rather than see it vilified. You never saw much binge drinking (or funneling, or shot pounding) in European universities because there was no stigma attached to alcohol. But instead we are raising low-hanging fruit for the alcohol industry in general, not just Pabst Brewing.

As to the drink masking and shrouding the effects of alcohol, exactly what the fuck does that say about orange juice? Cranberry juice? Are you serious? If that argument is to hold any water at all then Coke should be banned for it’s long-standing position as the perfect mask to Jack Daniels’ and Bacardi’s effects. Given the alcohol content those beverages boast, I’d be more worried about Coke’s complicity than Colt 45’s.

But the jackpot of course is that by demanding a ban on something you nearly always inadvertently create an intense desire for it. If any other companies are out there considering their angle of attack…err, I mean marketing campaign…for an upcoming product, their best bet is no doubt to develop a product that’s likely to incite deep-seeded protest. The more someone hates it, the more someone else loves it….not because it deserves love, but merely because it inspires lust.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don March 31, 2011

Same deal with Four Loco. People are just too stupid and need to be protected from their own dumbassedness (hey new word)!


2 Vinny April 1, 2011

Yikes. Why doesn’t anybody ban stuff like this because it sucks? As it stands, however, I can’t get behind this ban because, as you so eloquently state, the whole history of drinking alcohol is centered around hiding it’s taste.


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