Well, it’s about time.
Technically, Newcastle Brown Ale is not a microbrew (it is technically an import, made by Heineken), but its recent announcement that it will launch its first-ever television campaign is the arrow shot over the bow in the beer market.
Having worked on several beer brands, including some of the nation’s largest microbrews, believe me when I tell you that microbrews have rarely wanted to launch a mass media campaign.
Now, they will have to.
There were several reasons why microbrews do not want to launch TV campaigns. For some, it is a simple money issue. But, for most, it is because they feel mass media marketing is beneath them, somehow. They believed their refusal to “sell out” is part of their appeal. Many of them believed it was the act of discovery that made them (somewhat) popular and mass media marketing would subvert that.
There was some factual basis for that. Microbrew drinkers are among the most disloyal brand customers because their brand face (who they are when the use the brand) is about finding the new thing. They will try what’s new. It’s the Bud, Miller and Coors drinkers who will only drink that one brand of beer.
The problem with the approach most microbrews have taken, however, is that microbrews end up competing against themselves, never taking market share from the big three.
At some point, someone had to step out. Samuel Adams has run TV spots (and it is considered not microbrew-y enough inside the industry because of it) and now Newcastle is saying that enough is enough.
One thing I promise is that the first microbrew (and I’m talking about the ones that are not owned by Budweiser, Miller and Coors) to step out on the front porch and get aggressive with marketing – assuming its message is right – will also be the first to start stealing market share.
That’s when Bud, Coors and Miller will finally get nervous.