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Big beer talks local

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Major brands hero the little guy in an attempt to generate buy-now-redeem-later sales for pubs.

The hospitality industry has all but ground to a halt. Locally, pubs seem likely to be one of the last sectors to return to normal with experts predicting that September would be the earliest possible date of re-openings in Australia. April data revealed that 70% of businesses in the hospitality sector have been forced to reduce staff hours, with 43% having to either lay off staff or put them on unpaid leave.

The virus that famously shares a name with a beer brand, has actually been the cause of some pretty steep rises in alcohol intake, with a 34% reported rise on year on year sales figures. With this in mind beer brands are communicating, but the message is one of hospo support, instead of just another big brand message.

- Carlsberg launched the 'Adopt a Keg' campaign, encouraging Danes (Denmark being Carlsberg's homeland) to fill up a virtual keg with four scanned beers drunk at home. This can then be swapped for two post-lockdown pints "to share with a friend when visiting their favourite bar, pub or restaurant".

- Heineken has created a simpler mechanic with their "pay for a beer now, enjoy it later campaign" with a website that lets users buy a beer to enjoy at their favourite pub when it reopens. Heineken has promised to match each purchase with a donation to that venue.

- Closer to home Carlton United Breweries have created a hybrid of the two with the initiative "For the love of your local". Via CUB beer lovers can buy a beer voucher for their preferred CUB venue and CUB will match the donation with a second pint.

What makes these campaigns clever:

1. They show their support in trying to keep the doors open for the little guy. At a time when many are worried about their own financial security, the concern for global alcohol brands is probably quite far down the list of issues keeping most people up at night. These companies have leveraged their large role in the life of smaller players, who are in a much more empathy-inducing position.

2. They give the consumer a tailorable/personalised benefit. People love personalisation, and whilst this might not be engraved initials, the ability to help personally known bars and Publicans is much more evocative than a faceless venue. It also gives consumers a point of pride to share when they are next able to sit on their favourite bar stool.

3. Like many great historic beer ads, they capture the social aspect true of alcohol, that many of us miss so much right now. It is hardly groundbreaking to reference mate ship when talking about beer but of course isolation has made this more relevant than ever. It also treats the pub and the secondary encounters as little relationships in their own right, especially with Heineken's use of "don't you forget about me" from the perspective of the pub itself.

Similar initiatives like "keep your cafe" and "save our restaurants" have also popped up in an attempt to help cafes and restaurants feeling the impact of the pandemic. Save our restaurants is also a product of bigger platforms like Trip Advisor and The Fork. Heinz has similarly realised their iconic position in small businesses across the USA, and are helping the first 500 diners nominated with a $2000 USD grant.

Zara Cooper

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