On many occasions while writing my old Beer Blokes blog, I would find myself quoting mates, acquaintances or readers on the topic of ‘brand loyalty’. You know the sort; “I always drink ‘insert standard brand here’ and I’m loyal to the brewery”, “I’ve always been loyal to ‘you-know-what’ and there’s no reason to change” – that sort of thing.
The usual response was something like; “Isn’t loyalty a two-way street?” Shouldn’t loyalty be reciprocal and at least a teeny bit mutual? It’s one thing to maintain buying habits due to product satisfaction, price or convenience but that shouldn’t necessarily be construed as loyalty. “When was the last time your loyalty was actually rewarded?” was my response.
Well, it’s happened. Loyalty has been repaid. Granted, someone had to put their hand up and actually ask – but it happened. In truth, it could just be good marketing or brand ‘warm-fuzziness’ but it still happened. This post appeared on the mamamia.com.au website last week and retells the story of 21 year old radio producer and Twitterer Sean Power. An impending 21st party and a modest beer budget led the enterprising youngster to pen a letter to CUB CEO Ari Mervis*.
In summary it read; Loyal Carlton Draught drinker – need ten slabs of same – please help. Parts of his plea were novel and attention-grabbing which is probably the right approach in this sort of circumstance. He begins;
“Please, throw away the board-papers, forget about the ten committee meetings you have to attend to today and stick with me. Even if you tell me to bugger off by the end of this e-mail, hopefully you’ll get a good laugh to start your week.
Ever since I turned the grand old age of eighteen I’ve drunk Carlton Draught (ok, maybe I started a little earlier). My mates were sceptics, “the poor man’s drink” they’d shout. It didn’t matter if you were cheaper – in their eyes Corona and Little Creatures were the only way to go. But having grown up in a house where only you were stocked, I couldn’t convert. So, I’ve stayed strong.
Assuming he has the attention of Mr Mervis at this point, he continues;
Slowly I’m helping convert the lads to your brand of brews. It started with a few free pints. In fact, my eighteenth birthday was only stocked with Carlton as a sign of protest. And now…it’s slowly becoming everyone’s drink of choice.
I am to Carlton Draught what Jennifer Hawkins is to Mount Franklin Sparkling Water – a brand ambassador. Now, here’s the bombshell. In around seven weeks I turn twenty-one. Yep, I’m becoming an adult.
OK, Sean, enough of the fan-club banner-waving and onto the money shot.
“And I know it’s rude to ask…but I was wondering… maybe after the love that I’ve shown your brand over the last four years (and I promise that I will moving forward too) you could help me out? And maybe… you could help hydrate the crowd?”
There ya go. I would imagine that Sean was not the first (he certainly now won’t be the last) to dare to dream and stick fast to the old adage that; ‘if you don’t ask – you don’t get’. And so onto the response from ‘the Big House’.
Certainly have to admire your attitude, approach and obvious appreciation of a great beer.
While it’s not common practice to sponsor events of this nature, your efforts at supporting Carlton Draught should not go unnoticed, and I will ask Jennifer to assist by providing you with 10 cases of Carlton Draught, to help start the celebrations (and your father’s spreadsheet), as well as a limited edition Crown Ambassador CEO package, as gift from the Company.”
So there you go. Well done for asking, Sean, and well done, Ari, for your very generous response. The comments section of the article is, as always, where the story really grows legs. Comments range from ‘good on ya, bloke!’ to ‘cynical marketing ploy by CUB’ to ‘it’s obviously a set-up’. And lots more in between.
Is this an attempt by CUB to regain some of the corporate good-feeling lost in recent years? Was it simply a case of doing someone a good deed that just happened to gain traction as a result of exposure on a site that is pulling pretty impressive hit-numbers? Is good PR on a site that is probably fairly ‘non-beery’ just what CUB needs to boost its corporate image? Does the story highlight just how easy it is for the multi-nationals to promote their brand, flex their financial muscle make all the little independent brewers just a little envious? Your thoughts?
One thing’s for sure – it highlights the importance of social media (the story found plenty of fresh sets of eyes through Twitter links) when it comes to promoting beer. Then again, that’s something that many small brewers have known for a long time.
*Ari Mervis has recently become a follower of Brews News. This piece was already in the pipeline and should, in no way be construed as a ‘thank-you’ for his loyalty. Honest.