Friday, 7 November 2014

A Tale of Two Bloggers

I was invited to the launch (or should that be revitalisation) of the new "Let There Be Beer Campaign", but couldn't go due to other commitments that meant I'd be in the Grim North instead of Millbank. Others went and liked what they saw. One or two most certainly didn't like what they saw, so much so, they were still spitting hops days later and could only write about it after they'd calmed down. Interesting stuff.

The focus now is "There's a Beer for That". Two bloggers I like and respect wrote about it. One, Matt, was in the "Incandescent With Rage" Corner" and t'other Ed, in the "Seems All Right to Me" Corner. Other bloggers (I like them too) have also written about it - for example Pete Brown has done so and was broadly in favour, while Beersoakedboy was agin it on the whole, but in quite measured tones, seemingly more concerned about lazy stereotypes and likely poor impact, than Matt, whose main and recurring theme was that it sat on the backs of the smaller craft brewers in order to get a better view. "It's the better that the people behind this campaign are worried about, craft beer is bucking the industry trend and growing at an exponential rate........... Craft beer hasn't just got its foot in the door to the mainstream, it's already in the room throwing a party and it brought beer. So why do we need There's a Beer for That? Well, multinational corporations really don't like it when small businesses infringe on their market share. That's pretty clear. Craft doesn't need the big brewers, so bog off. 

Of course the argument that advertising such as this is kind of lowest common denominator stuff can easily be made, but advertising does work, though only the very cleverest of advertising can make those who do not wish to engage, engage. Nonetheless if the phrase "There's a Beer for That" sticks in the mind of those sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and makes them think of beer, wouldn't you think that a good thing? I think I would. On the other hand though I take Matt's point about the overwhelming wish seems to be for those funding the campaign to be the biggest beneficiaries of it. Mind you, it would be somewhat remarkable if they didn't.  It is maybe worth pointing out that few of us came to craft beer by starting out that way. Most of us started out with a pint of Harp, or Carling and moved on. Or didn't. And that's the point. Craft may be rising, but it doesn't rule the world just yet and is for most a destination that they may never consider visiting, not a journey's start. Most beer drinkers drink the good old cooking stuff and why shouldn't they? Matt's love of craft beer is legendary, but he wears his craft credentials on his sleeve. Not that that's a bad thing. He probably hides it less well than those that funded the Let There Be Beer Campaign hide their intentions. But like them it does colour his view somewhat. They are maybe not so different then in some ways?  Matt certainly isn't the target audience.

So what does Ed say? He has only a few well reasoned paragraphs, culminating in this " I have to say I'm quite pleased to see a generic campaign to promote beer." He gets far fewer comments, but John Clarke, quite a craft beer supporter, weighs in by saying "I have to say that I'm a little bemused by all this outrage. If it's a generic promotion to raise the profile of beer does it really matter who funds it?" That would I suppose only be true if you don't mind what beer people drink, as long as it is beer.  I'm not sure that's the message I'm getting when I read what Matt has to say.  "People are drinking better etc."  Is it that old beer snob thing again? I hope not. The truth is, that for most people, "There's a Beer for That" is unlikely to mean craft, so to that extent Matt has a fair point.  An analogy is that over the years, when campaigning for real ale (and it still is true), that as an advocate for cask, you have to accept that your view of beer is a minority one.  Craft keg is no different.

On the balance, Ed has the right of it.  More people drinking beer is good for everyone. When the craft beer movement can throw ten million quid at it, they can do it their way. Until then, let's get them to drink beer first, then worry about them drinking "better" beer later.

This isn't a go at Matt by the way. His passion for beer - craft beer in particular -makes his views worth commenting on.


The Beer Nut said...

When the craft beer movement did do it, we got I Am A Craft Brewer, which was a million times more cringeworthy than TABFT.

Stonch said...

Matt's name seems to be popping up all over the place - seen him on twitter recently lots - he's presumably one of the new wave of beer bloggers I've missed out on - let's have a quick unbiased Tandleman summation of his style so I know what to expect!

Cooking Lager said...

What was never mentioned is that this sort of advertising is dead. When people were told to go to work on an Egg or that cream cakes were naughty but nice, people actually watched live TV.

Do people watch live TV these days? I watch DVDs, I download stuff & I program the telly to record stuff. Fast forwarding the adverts when I come to watch it.

Even my old Mum watches more TV off her freeview recorder than broadcast live. She loves series record.

The last live telly I watched was a footie match.

I did go out and buy Heineken, a ford focus and some gillette razor blades straight after, mind.

Curmudgeon said...

Agreed - it's a rather narrow and blinkered perspective that doesn't recognise any commonality of interest amongst all beer drinkers.

You don't see all this internecine squabbling in the wine world - if people are drinking cheap wine, then they may move on to drinking better wine.

Cooking Lager said...

The drinking path is one of upgrading product? People drink because it is a social norm and start off on the priciest they can afford because it tells the world they are prosperous.

Then they become middle aged winos and start noticing bang per buck. Who is there to imporess anymore? Each is a gradual step of slight lower quality for big price saving.

It happens to wine and beer drinkers. 20 years ago, Mudge, you were a hipster of your time paying top dollar for grog. Now look at you in Home Bargains with the rest of us value drinkers ;)

The only reason Tand stays on the pricey grog is because superstar beer bloggers get the chicks, and superstar smoking ban bloggers don't.

Tandleman said...

Jeff: I think you need to read Matt's blog and form your own opinion. Btw, I'm in London next week Thursday to Monday am.

Cookie: Although the chicks are a bonus, it's a pity I've forgotten what to do with them.

Rob said...

I couldn't really understand what was so objectionable about the ad either. But lots of people seemed to be piling on in agreement (with the usual divergence into pubcos are eeeeeeeeeeeevil territory from Mark Dodds). You also need to add in Chris Hall's blog, where Pete Brown has written a long response.

It is a common theme in discussions about beer and pubs that if you aren't completely negative about pubcos, the tie, big brewers etc you are condemned as a stooge for big business.

Bailey said...

Jess and I don't agree with Matt, but we were happy to see someone putting across that point of view with gusto. (But, it should be noted, without personally insulting anyone.) Keeps things interesting and helps to hold cosy consensus at bay.

Pivní Filosof said...

It might be because I'm seeing it from afar, but I fail to understand what's so exciting about this ad, or the campaign in general, to be in favour or against it.

Does anyone really need the approval about this or that group of people to feel good about their booze of choice? Will it make it taste better because someone who's never drunk it suddenly "sees the light"?

That's quite sad, really.

PS: All that being said, I agree with Tandleman. There are some crafotphiles out there who should at least try to get in touch with reality, and accept that they are part of a niche, and will likely remain one for the foreseeable future.

Cooking Lager said...

The proselytizing is something I’ve never quite got, Pivni. I’ve been amused by it, but never got.

I could understand why in 1970 a group of blokes decided to campaign for beer they liked. It was largely unavailable and they needed to swap intelligence with each other through beer guides in a pre-internet world and encourage more of the public to appreciate it. The zeitgeist of the time pushed them in the direction of a union rather than a commercial concern. Can you imagine had the famous four done it post Thatcher? They’d have likely formed a Brewdog rather than CAMRA. But that campaign required proselytizing to succeed in getting their preferred grog as ubiquitously available as it currently is.

Why is that required today? Are they influenced by the legacy of CAMRA and feel they have to campaign in some way? For good of beer? What? FFS.

Why not just enjoy the beer, the bars and chat about what they do and don’t like? Why does it matter what the wider community drink? Why convert anyone to anything? Why give a shit about a beer commercial? Enjoy the grog. If you have a bob or two, combine it with travel and go drink it in the country of origin and talk to a bloke in lederhosen. There’s no need to shout it from the rooftops, just enjoy getting pissed in new and exciting ways

Tyson said...

If you're doing a round up of bloggers' reactions to this campaign, let it be known that I was invited but chose not to attend this particular horse and pony show.

Ed said...

Thanks Tandleman.

Paul Bailey said...

What I would like to know, is why wasn't I invited???

Unknown said...

I see the campaign as a Trojan horse, and explain why on my blog.

Of course the main sponsors want you to think it is OK. They seem to have won a little. Which is worrying for us micro brewers.

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