Monday, 14 March 2011

CAMRA At It Again?


It doesn't do to go rubbishing other people's choice of drinks does it? We are all more or less agreed on that one I think. Accentuate the positive we are urged.

Why then do we get this?: "We want the public to realise that the fizzy, yellow so-called ‘beers’ pushed on the unsuspecting public by big breweries should be treated as a crime..... Crap beer’s days are numbered. The time for revolution is now......to prove to beer drinkers that have previously put up with these tasteless, insipid mainstream lagers that things have changed."

Hang on though. It isn't CAMRA that say this, but Brew Dog in announcing " a crap beer amnesty" this month for drinkers to trade in big brand cans for their about to be nationally released canned Punk IPA.

Of course if CAMRA had said this, the CAMRA bashers would have been out in force condemning them as out of touch, etc. etc. But it wasn't CAMRA, so that's all right then isn't it?


And yes, I've fallen into the Brew Dog trap once more. But at least I resisted illustrating this with a Brew Dog can!

26 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

BrewDog, of course, don't claim to speak on behalf of consumers. But it is generally accepted that in the long run slagging off your competitors isn't a good marketing strategy.

Sid Boggle said...

But... but, we're all in this together!

Tandleman said...

Mudgie - Indeed, but then it isn't CAMRA "official" that say most things they are accused of, but individuals.

Sid - Well we ought to be, but clearly aren't!

John Clarke said...

I suspect you will get a deafening silence from the anti-CAMRA mob. As you say If CAMRA had put out something like this all hell (led no doubt by Pete Brown) would have broken loose.

As you say - double standards. I wait to be proved wrong. I'm not holding my breath though.

SteveF said...

I don't think there's necessarily a contradiction here - some of the regular CAMRA bashers will happily have a go at crappy lagers along with many CAMRA members, while at the same time bemoaning what they see as CAMRA narrowmindedness in not accepting craft keg or whatever. Nu-keg (for want of a better term) is a different product from your average lager, so you can criticise the latter while also attacking CAMRA for not being too enamoured by the former.

In other words, I'm not sure that being a member of the group you are referring to here necessarily precludes you from slagging off crap lager. That said, if someone (e.g. Pete) is trying to promote a more inclusive view then this is the sort of thing they should be condemming.

StringersBeer said...

When will they ever have an original idea? Funnily enough, the wine types got there first

SteveF said...

Hmmmm, posted a comment but it seems to have disappeared (have had this quite a bit recently with Blogger). Anyway, what I basically wrote was that there isn't necessarily contradiction and hypocrisy here. The anti CAMRA people are generally arguing that CAMRA should be more inclusive and look more favourably on craft keg and whatnot. These are distinct products from the crappy lager being criticised by Brewdog. Therefore you can side with many CAMRA members in attacking "industrial fizz" while also bemoaning the fact that CAMRA aren't too keen on your new American inspired uber hoppy keg beer.

Having said that, if you are arguing (as Pete has recently) that the beer community should generally be more tolerant, more positive and so forth, then yes you should probably be unhappy with the Brewdog approach (though such a person would probably argue that being more positive doesn't preclude occasionally slagging off the mainstream).

SteveF said...

Hmmmm, posted a comment but it seems to have disappeared (have had this quite a bit recently with Blogger). Anyway, what I basically wrote was that there isn't necessarily contradiction and hypocrisy here. The anti CAMRA people are generally arguing that CAMRA should be more inclusive and look more favourably on craft keg and whatnot. These are distinct products from the crappy lager being criticised by Brewdog. Therefore you can side with many CAMRA members in attacking "industrial fizz" while also bemoaning the fact that CAMRA aren't too keen on your new American inspired uber hoppy keg beer.

Having said that, if you are arguing (as Pete has recently) that the beer community should generally be more tolerant, more positive and so forth, then yes you should probably be unhappy with the Brewdog approach (though such a person would probably argue that being more positive doesn't preclude occasionally slagging off the mainstream).

PS, sorry if you have multiple posts from me, something is up with Blogger.

Ed said...

The silence from some quarters is speaking volumes.

Cooking Lager said...

If brewdog think that strategy improves their sales, they will continue. I suspect a few idiots will buy their grog because of the anti cheap lager branding, just as some weirdos like the Hobgoblin branding.

Tandleman said...

SteveF. You seem to be coming through loud and clear now.

SteveF said...

Aah yes, sorry for clogging up the comments. Not sure what's going on. Feel free to delete a couple of them if you like.

Cooking Lager said...

Who are these anti Camra people? Camra is a worthwhile campaign. There is nothing wrong with campaigning for a tradition. Camra has its critics and people are free to criticise. I find it a pity that Camra campaigns on the price of a can of lager but I applaud the efforts of yourself putting on beer festivals and the like.

As for Brewdog, it is a pity they spend so much time informing me that beer is a nasty product unless I am prepared to pay top dollar for their own beer, rather than just inform me how great Brewdog beer is.

One day I might drink one but I don't want the image associated with being a beer snob.

Curmudgeon said...

I can't help thinking taking this line has now become a bit counterproductive for BrewDog. Realistically, the target market for canned Punk IPA isn't people whose usual tipple is Carling or Stella.

Phil said...

Actually, it would only be counter-productive if their target market *was* Carling-drinkers. BrewDog's target market is the same as always, beer snobs and people who like the idea of being beer snobs. It doesn't make much difference whether the ads are attacking yellow fizz or boring brown beer - the elitist/pseudo-elitist* pitch works either way. As Cookie says, it's a mirror image of the infamous Hobgoblin campaign. The main difference is that Hobgoblin only did it once, whereas the wind seems to have changed on BrewDog and left them stuck like that.

*The clever part of it is that BD have a continuing appeal to people who quite genuinely & unironically think of themselves as beer elitists - & are willing to pay prices of elite silliness to prove it - at the same time as they run mass-market sales campaigns using an elite image as pure branding. Spectacular innit.

Velky Al said...

A beer amnesty they say? So, if they trade you on a 1 for 1 basis - every beer geek in the land should swallow their pride, buy a slab of Carling or some such and trade it in for a slab of Punk. Just saying like.

Cooking Lager said...

@Mudge, the market for brewdog are beer snobs that define snobbery by what they hate as much as what they love. It's a successful approach by all accounts.

SteveF said...

"@Mudge, the market for brewdog are beer snobs that define snobbery by what they hate as much as what they love. It's a successful approach by all accounts."

Is this true? I'm not a Brewdog evangelist (they have some excellent beers, some crap beers and some utterly pointless beers) but from what I've read, they are doing pretty well and I can't imagine that is solely down to the "beer snob" market. We read a lot about them from the crafterati section of the beer blogosphere, but perhaps that skews the perception of who drinks their beer. I would have thought to be doing as well as they are that they must appeal beyond this relatively niche market. By way of minor anecdote, a friend who lives in Aberdeen and is a fairly average drinker, not a snob by any means, goes to their pub up their pretty often and really enjoys it. I doubt they've cracked the mainstream, but I'm guessing that their appeal is perhaps more broad than is being suggested.

Séan Billings said...

This is just Brewdogs regular guerilla marketing. They alternate between trying to get a rise out of neo-prohibitionists and CAMRA. They are hoping someone prominent will have a very public fit about what they say and that results in column inches. They are like a 5 year old misbehaving just to get some attention.

That's all there is to it and giving it any further consideration, let alone discussing the silly things they are saying is a waste of time.

RedNev said...

BrewDog's advertising is usually irritating, sometimes childish and, in one instance, borderline racist. TM is right that if CAMRA had spoken about ordinary lagers in this way, certain beer writers would probably write their usual "more in sorrow than in anger" articles slagging the campaign off.

As for those who want CAMRA to change its basic principles and embrace craft keg or nu-keg (a rather silly term), why not form your own campaign? After all, as I've pointed out before, CAMRA began with four ordinary blokes in a pub.

James, BrewDog said...

Our target market is actually borderline alcoholics with *commitment* issues.

keep on rocking in the free world

coxy said...

do I have to give them a 500ml can for a little Punk, only if they give me a lager boy Hobgoblin t shirt to go with it. I propose a water pistol fight between Fosters and Brewdog in Hyde park. Brewdog are excellent at marketing, but if they were a football fan,they would be a smug Arsenal fan.

Phil said...

Steve - it's like something Charles Shaar Murray said about punk. The original New York punk scene consisted of poets and people who aspired to be poets; the British punk scene consisted of yobs... and people who aspired to be yobs. BD marketing is aimed at beer snobs, and people who aspire to be beer snobs (look at those labels).

Of course, lots of people like 'em because they like what they do, which isn't just image. I'm personally a huge fan of their cask beers, which in my experience are almost always good & sometimes exceptional; if they had a cask bar in travelling distance I'd be there regularly. (If they had a cask bar in Aberdeen I'd be seriously tempted.)

Pete Brown said...

Don't think very highly of it at all Tandy, and would never condone it.

But it's their brand - rightly or wrongly, they've chosen to be both elitist and controversial as a way to build the brand, and the old marketer in me has to grudgingly accept that it is extremely effective.

I guess the difference is that they're a commercial business. It would leave a nasty taste indeed were a democratic consumer champion body to adopt a similar tone. (Not that they do - officially - as you point out)

Martyn Cornell said...

There's evidence that the people who are most likely to read an ad for a particular make of car are the people who have actually just bought that make - they want to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. Similarly advertising like Brewdog's, and indeed Hobgoblin's (and Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale in the US) is aimed at their existing consumers, to reassure them what wonderful people they are because of their beer choice. It's not the way to make friends and influence people, but the 14-year-old in me thinks it's quite funny. However, I liked the "DD is K9P" badges you'd see Camra members wearing back in the 1970s, so I'm probably not to be trusted (especially as I also have a Lagerboy T-shirt, though I didn't actually but it - I was given it for free at a Hobgoblin press event …)

Martyn Cornell said...

"… buy it …"