Maker’s Mark: Lessons Learned

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Maker’s Mark is an iconic brand with fiercely loyal consumers and, thanks to social media, they’re not afraid to speak up (make that holler) when the company decided to mess with the brand.

Last week, the company announced that, to “meet demand” they would lower the alcohol content. They explained it to Wine and Spirits Daily by saying that the brand is encountering shortages and among the solutions (including lowering the age, raising the price) they chose lowering the proof from 90 to 84. The outcry among their consumers was deafening with “watered down” the rallying point.

This week they announced that the decision would be reversed.

Maker’s and Beam made a number of errors. First, their explanation of lowering the proof to meet demand was seen as BS, with industry cynics shouting that their real motive was taking the tax savings (approximately $1.5 million) to the bottom line. I don’t buy that. It’s not worth it for a million case brand to take the “goodness” out for a buck. They either should have had a better rationale or spent more time than they did talking to their consumers about the decision.

So, they made a PR mistake.

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Budweiser vs. Murphy’s – The Irish Beer Ad Battle

Ad Age magazine gave the “creativity pick of the day” award (Aug. 30) to Murphy’s Beer for an ad that goes one up on Budweiser.
It seems that Bud released a summer app that lowers the price of beer, as the weather gets hotter. Huh? Obviously Budweiser doesn’t know very much about Irish weather. On our trip there in July, it was cool and raining most of the time. For me at least, that was a wonderful part of being in Ireland.
Murphy’s, on the other hand, knows that summer means lots of rain and, since they are Irish, came up with their own weather-related app. They give you a free pint of stout when it rains.

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Cider, The Next Big Thing…Really?

Ad Age, Buffalo Trace Newsletter, Wine and Spirits Daily, Shanken News Daily and others have all had stories about Cider and its potential as the next “craft” brew.

At first I thought – no way. Cider (Hard Cider that is) has been around for centuries and never caught on. Most people I know who have come here from the UK, sooner or later miss Cider and wonder why Americans don’t drink it. I don’t know why that is – no acquired taste for it; perceptions that it’s too sweet; dislike of apple juice; confusion about what it is; just because it’s not in consumers’ frame of reference. There are lots of reasons.

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